I'm facing a dilemma. There are 2 cats that often come nearby my house. One is the mother (who happened to come to my house even before I fed it) and the other a kitten that was born also nearby my house. I think the mother might have been abandoned by previous owner because she was comfy with humans.

At first the mother was skinny and had infection. I helped her by feeding whenever she comes and buy medications from vets to treat her skin and cough. Now she's healthy. The kitten is also well fed because I helped it since it was a little.

However because of my actions, both have a dependency towards me. Sometimes they ask for attention, which I give from time to time. On top of it, the mother cat keeps getting pregnant, which led to my neighbor who don't want their kids to play with kittens, throwing away the kittens. I think some of the kittens might have been dead too without me knowing it. I have very little control about this because the cats are always outside and anyone can do whatever they want. I don't bring them in or keeping them as a pet, because I don't think a Buddhist should keep pets.

Which brings me to these questions:

  1. Am I wrong for feeding these cats? my heart tells me to feed hungry animals if possible but of course not everyone sees strays as animals that need help. By feeding I also invite them to stay around my house (being more dependent on me and causing annoyance for the neighbor)
  2. Am I wrong for thinking Buddhist aren't allowed to keep pets?
  3. Since stray cats usually breed a lot. Should I neuter the mother cat? my hope is so that there will be no more kittens thrown away from their mother not long after birth, or to experience suffering. Is it wrong to neuter animals?

Answers to these questions will help me decide on what to do next.

Thank you. Namo Buddhaya.

  • This is a tough question esp. the one about spaying the mother cat. As a Buddhist, there is also the fear of karmic entanglement. If one is responsible for spaying the mother cat, is one also responsible for its subsequent welfare?
    – Desmon
    Commented Feb 6 at 7:03
  • 1
    Why do you imagine Buddhists aren't allowed to keep pets? Is that similar to the topic (asked elsewhere on this site) about whether Buddhists are allowed to be parents?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 7 at 6:51

2 Answers 2


When I lived in a large Buddhist forest monastery in Thailand, there were many ex-stray dogs & cats living in the monastery. The monks would feed the dogs & cats left over alms food. However, your situation is different because it sounds like you are living in a congested suburban area.

I have never considered the question before about neutering a cat but I think neutering the cat can end nuance to your neighbors and the death of kittens. For example, where I live, in Australia, if my neighbours cannot control their dogs & cats, the dogs & cats can be removed & impounded (imprisoned) by the local council. The primary question for a practising Buddhist is what harm will occur to the mother cat if she is neutered?

Since these cats have come live among people, I sense cats must conform to people society. In other words, your neutering the cat may protect the cat from harm by hostile people. At least in my country, the vast majority of dogs & cats are neutered. I have not noticed this harms the dogs & cats. If you are very fastidious, you may consider to do some research of scientific views about the harm of neutering pets. As I wrote, the primary question for a practising Buddhist is what harm will occur to the mother cat if she is neutered?

For example, when I lived in mostly unneutered Thailand, when the female dogs were on heat, the male dogs would fight & often viciously injure each other. For example, the dog in the photo below got stuck to the female dog when copulating & could not remove itself. Another dog ripped a hole out of this white dog's buttocks and the monks had to heal the dog. I can still visualize the maggots in the wound of this dog that a monk who lived in the hut next to me pulled out with tweezers.

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  1. The Buddha was clear that even giving to animals is meritorious and that giving should not be discouraged:

“Vaccha, whoever prevents another from giving a gift creates three obstructions, three impediments. Which three? He creates an obstruction to the merit of the giver, an obstruction to the recipient’s gains, and prior to that he undermines and harms his own self. Whoever prevents another from giving a gift creates these three obstructions, these three impediments.

“I tell you, Vaccha, even if a person throws the rinsings of a bowl or a cup into a village pool or pond, thinking, ‘May whatever animals live here feed on this,’ that would be a source of merit, to say nothing of what is given to human beings." AN 3:58

  1. The keeping of pets by laypeople is never explicitly criticised by the Buddha, as far as I'm aware.

  2. Similarly with neutering animals. It's not something the Buddha forbade laypeople from doing.

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