When there are neighborhood cats around that nobody owns or takes responsibility for, it can lead to a ton of kittens quickly. Spaying and neutering cats is one way to avoid this, but it's hardly where the benefits stop for stray cats. If you've noticed cats in your area that are in heat, visibly pregnant, or who appear to be young females, then you should strongly consider trapping them, having them spayed, and then either adopting them out or returning them to the neighborhood depending on their friendliness. Here are three things that you'll be helping to prevent by spaying female neighborhood cats regardless of where they end up.

Prevents Excessively Early Pregnancies

Cats, like humans, go through a form of puberty that brings them to a level of sexual maturity, allowing them to breed and rear children. However, also like humans, some cats end up entering puberty earlier than they should.

Unfortunately, an abnormally early pregnancy in a cat can end up being devastating for her, as well as her kittens. If a cat's body isn't physically developed well enough to bear kittens, it's possible for her to experience a miscarriage, or to die in childbirth herself. While most cats will be able to bear a litter of kittens without problems, the sooner you have young female cats spayed, the better.

Prevents Nutritional Problems

Another issue to consider is how well the feral cats in your neighborhood are, in terms of health and their physical condition. Pregnancies are extremely demanding on a mother cat's body, just like you would expect with humans and other creatures. Kittens need a lot of nutrients and calories in order to grow and develop correctly, and when a cat is pregnant, her body will prioritize keeping them in good shape. Unfortunately, this can lead to certain nutrients and calories being leached from the cat's body, which can make them ill, or trigger problems like tooth loss.

Prevents Cancer

Finally, regardless of the age that you choose to rescue and spay a cat, you'll be doing her a favor in dramatically reducing her risk of certain cancers. Ovarian and uterine cancer are no longer a risk at all, as these organs are removed when a female cat is spayed. Their risk of breast cancer, while not completely erased, will also drop dramatically because their bodies won't be producing as many hormones that can increase the risk of this disease. 

Catching and spaying feral cats can help to control the homeless cat population and ensures that the females live happier, healthier lives.