What do you really want to teach your children?

I want my dog (or cat) to have just one litter so my children can see the miracle of birth.

Let’s examine this idea. What do you really want to teach your children? What will they learn from this experience?

Would you like your children to learn about where babies come from? Cats and dogs do not make babies exactly like people do.

Females come into “heat” – for dogs it happens twice a year, and for cats, it can happen every couple of weeks until she becomes pregnant. Males are attracted to the smell and cannot resist the urge to mate. Approximately 80% of dogs and cats hit by cars are males lured by the aroma of a female in heat.

Mating for dogs and cats is not romantic. There is no dating, getting to know one another, or making plans for a life together. There is passion, but it is fleeting and impersonal. The female is left to deal with her pregnancy alone.

If mating occurs during the animal’s first heat, she is probably only six months to a year old. She is only a youngster herself, just entering puberty. Her body is not truly developed or mature enough for the ordeal, and she is probably not emotionally ready for motherhood.

Pregnancy lasts for about two months. As her due date nears, the mother becomes restless and looks for a place to have her babies. She may be calm enough to endure a well lit, middle of the room location, but more likely she will want some privacy. Many dogs and cats seek a dark closet or other hidden place to give birth.

Once she begins to deliver, there is the possibility of medical complications. Breech births are not uncommon. Eclampsia, caused by calcium deficiency, is possible and life threatening. Large headed breeds might need C-section. Pups or kittens might be stillborn. Inexperienced mothers might not know how to lick off the placenta, resulting in asphyxiation.

Once the babies are born, there is the question of what to do with them. Few families are prepared to keep an entire litter, so there are new homes to be found. Good, responsible homes who will keep the new lives for as long as they live.

The truth is that every year in the United States, millions of animals are killed because there are not enough homes for them. Dogs reproduce 12 times as fast as people do, and cats have kittens 40 times as often as people have babies.

What do you really want to teach your children?

How about teaching them that dogs and cats deserve kindness and compassion. Teach them that allowing puppies and kittens to be born is not in the animals’ best interests. Teach them that animals are not educational tools, but are living, breathing, feeling creatures. Teach your children that spaying and neutering are one of the most important things we can do for our animals. Teach them to be responsible.

And then take your children to the library and get a few good books about where babies come from.

To see a video of a dog giving birth, go to


To see a video of a cat giving birth, go to