Friday, June 20, 2014

Edible Birth Control for Cats
It works, is low risk, and with mass distribution could save millions of cats' lives. 

Historically the only option for people like me who were feeding stray cats and wanted to do the responsible thing and keep them from reproducing was a process called Trap/Neuter/Return or T/N/R.  

I'd been Googling " birth control cats" since the internet came to be and could hardly believe my eyes when in 2009 I found the "Feralstat" site. After a phone consultation with their veterinarian, a non-profit in Connecticut could prescribe a powdered birth control - megestrol acetate (MA) and lactose powder - which when added weekly to wet cat food would prevent pregnancy in female cats after the second dosing. (MA is a synthetic hormone prescribed for people under names like "Megace" and pets under trade names like  "Ovaban".) 

I'd been a feral cat advocate since the 70's and had been coordinator of a feral cat coalition here in Florida since 2003, and yet no one I contacted had heard of Feralstat either. It couldn't be legitimate. Or safe. Or affordable. Still I had to at least investigate the claims. 

I did hours of research (see the three posts for megestrol acetate) with sources including PubMed, part of the National Institute of Health site. The risk of side effects from MA seemed to average less than one half of one percent even at much higher dosages than Feralstat ( approx. 1 mg MA per cat once a week.) Since then I've come across a 2003 French report -" COMMISSION NATIONALE DE PHARMACOVIGILANCE VETERINAIRE RAPPORT D’EXPERTISE DE PHARMACOVIGILANCE relatif à l’AVIS CNPV – 02 du 9/12/2003" - which concluded that the risk of adverse reactions was .074 per 100K pills sold. (MA has been available in France for over a decade, through pharmacies, without a prescription.)

I also researched Tait's Every Animal Matters, the Connecticut non-profit which distributed Feralstat, and Dr, John Caltabiano who developed it. I found nothing to call in to question their credibility or ethics. 

So I ordered Feralstat and from 2010 - 2011 a colleague and I dosed 15 cats. There were no births or pregnancies.

Our experience is not unique. A  Topix forum (link does not always work - Google "Topix ACC&D Statement Feralstat" then click "LAST" for most recent posts, or see the archived pages here dated May 2014) includes caretakers successfully using MA. The Fairchild Foundation in Berk's County Pennsylvania has used it for years. And again, it has been available through pharmacies in Europe for over a decade.  

Feralstat ceased being distributed after the untimely death of the Dr. John Caltabiano who had filed the FDA paperwork. It is still available under the non-trademarked name megestrol acetate with a veterinarian's prescription. As of January 2017 the MA product Nonovulin is no longer available through EBAY, but the Bulgarian seller I bought from for four years has set up the website venivet.com . 

This information was previously published on my site floridacatnews.com.