Date of this Version
Theriogenology 76 (2011) 1517–1525; doi:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2011.06.022
The uncontrolled reproduction of free-roaming feral cats contributes to overpopulation and associated concerns regarding their welfare and impact on public health and the environment. Nonsurgical fertility control that could be administered to feral cats in the field would be a powerful tool for cat population control. The objective was to test the efficacy and duration of activity of a single-dose GnRH immunocontraceptive vaccine (GonaCon™) on the fertility of adult female laboratory cats. Vaccinated cats (n = 15) received a single injection of vaccine containing a GnRH-KLH conjugate (200 μg) emulsified in a mycobacterial and oil adjuvant on study Day 0. Sham-treated cats (n = 5) received a single injection containing all vaccine components except the GnRH-KLH conjugate. A breeding trial started on study Day 120. Vaccinated cats had a longer time to conception (median 39.7 mo) compared to sham-treated cats (4.4 mo; P < 0.001). A total of 93% of vaccinated cats remained infertile for the first year following vaccination, whereas 73, 53, and 40% were infertile for 2, 3, and 4 y, respectively. At study termination (5 y after a single GnRH vaccine was administered), four cats (27%) remained infertile. The GnRH antibody titers declined more rapidly in short-term responding cats with < 2 y of infertility (n = 4), compared to long-term responding cats that experienced fertility control for < 2 y (n = 11) (P < 0.05). Non-painful but persistent late-onset granulomatous injection site masses appeared 2 y after initial vaccination in five cats. We concluded that GnRH immunocontraception is an ideal candidate for further development for feral cat control.