Immuno-contraception by oral vaccination of feral cats in Australia

Why don’t the Australian authorities use immuno-contraception (IC) by vaccination to control the population feral cats in Australia which prey on native species and which annoy the Australian authorities so much?

The vaccination could be given orally. And it seems to me that theoretically it could be given orally using the device that the clever Australians have devised to chuck 1080 poison over passing feral cats to kill them. The idea of this device is that the poison lands on the feral cat’s fur and then they lick it off.

Might it be possible to substitute a liquid contraceptive for the poison? If it was possible, it would be a far more humane way to deal with feral cats and it might even be effective.

GNRH plays a key role in reproductive function
GNRH plays a key role in reproductive function. Image: Insights into Veterinary Endocrinology.

Research-some more details

A study published on the National Library of Medicine website called “Effect of vaccination with a novel GnRH-based immunocontraceptive on immune responses and fertility in rats” tells us that the researchers used, in an initial trial, an orally delivered immunocontraceptive vaccine called MAF-IMX294 on rats which generated anti GnRH antibody titres.

“GnRH” stands for Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone. This is produced in the hypothalamus of the brain and causes the downstream production of sex hormones by the gonads. It regulates puberty onset, social development and ovulatory cycles and females. Therefore, it can be used to stop these processes in the production of eggs and therefore the female is no longer fertile.

That’s the theory as I understand it. In the study I refer to above they concluded that they were able to deliver this contraceptive orally to rats which reduced the proportion of females giving birth.

The study “provided the first evidence of the contraceptive effect of an oral anti-GnRH vaccine”. The contraceptive effect is not permanent but it’ll have a beneficial effect and further research might improve its durability.

The study was published in 2020. It’s the first study of its kind as far as I know. But it seems to me that there is a potential to be able to deliver an oral contraceptive to feral cats remotely using imagination and plenty of technology.

Humanely versus inhumanely – a duty to do the former

The great problem with the Australians in their relationship with feral cats is that they treat them horrendously inhumanely. This barbaric behaviour towards feral cats is compounded by the fact that the human ancestors of the current Australians put the feral cats on the continent in the first place. They therefore have a duty to reduce their population size humanely.

Putting some money into further research in Australia on delivering an oral contraceptive to feral cats remotely would satisfy all the animal advocates as well as the conservationists who are so desperate to stop feral cats praying on small native marsupials and mammals in Australia.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.