Castration for Pets, Castration for People

People who have cats and dogs are urged to get their pets spayed/neutered (i.e. castrated), not only for birth control, but to modify their behavior and improve their health. If it were just for birth control, there are less invasive procedures, such as vasectomies and tying up fallopian tubes, which also render cats and dogs unable to reproduce. It is true that castrated cats and dogs tend to live significantly longer.

For humans, on the other hand, many people have trouble convincing medical systems to take away their ability to reproduce permanently even by the less invasive procedures of interuterine devices and vasectomies. And unless one belongs to a majorly oppressed group, is convicted of a crime, or has compelling medical reasons, I imagine getting a surgical castration would be even harder.

While I don’t know about the data for people who have their ovaries removed, there is lots of evidence that people who have their testes removed live significantly longer. Just like cats and dogs.

This strikes me as a double standard. People who claim to ‘love’ cats and dogs advocate for using the most extreme means to control their reproduction, yet hardly anyone advocates the same for humans (aside from humans on the lower end of the social order).

Many people claim that castration is inhumane. But, if castration is inhumane for people, why is it ‘humane’ to do it to cats and dogs? If population control is the issue, wouldn’t tube-tying and vasectomies be more ‘humane’?

And if castration is done to improve the health of cats and dogs … why not let humans improve their health too? Heck, potentially adding 10 years to one’s life seems to be pretty tempting to me. If I were not interested in having a biological child, I would seriously consider having my ovaries removed just for that.

As far as the behavior … aside from very specific things (such as sex drive), it’s very difficult to discern the effect castration has on people’s behavior because it’s hard to filter out cultural and social factors. And my sex drive is already so low that I don’t think having my ovaries removed could make that much of a difference.

I think the thought experiment of comparing the way people treat pets’ reproductive organs and each others’ reproductive organs reflects a few things:

1) Many people treat pets as toys rather than as fellow beings. If one truly respects one’s cat or dog, wouldn’t one want to use the least invasive birth control method feasible?

2) Having the possibility of reproducing (even if it is being temporarily negated by the pill), and especially acting sexually (including having a sex drive) is a major social marker in contemporary Anglophone culture. This is why castration is only suggested for people with low social status, and why almost nobody suggests castration as a means to extend one’s lifespan.


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2 thoughts on “Castration for Pets, Castration for People

  1. As a man castrated for medical reasons and not by choice, I can say that it’s not inhumane. Having my balls removed certainly saved my life. It is, however, an.embarrassing thing to undergo. Especially when the surgeon and nurses were all female. I suppose, as a eunuch, I do get to live longer.

    • Wow, I can’t believe that it took me over a year to get around to replying to your comment (well, I was travelling and had limited internet access in July 2014).

      Thank you for your comment. It again raises the question – why isn’t castration suggested for humans more often?

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