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Does anyone know whether keeping an animal of one sex as a pet is considered Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim or not, since it cannot mate?

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Humanbeing, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for your interesting question (and, elsewhere, your answer). Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. – msh210 May 10 '12 at 15:02

Tza'ar ba'alei chayim concerns practices that physically or (perhaps) psychologically hurt the animal. Aside from the possible case of a female animal in heat, not mating does not appear to cause distress to animals. Anecdotally, Judaism 101 reports a story of an Orthodox pet owner giving a pet birth-control pills and asserts that this would not be a violation of halacha.

The absence of evidence is not itself necessarily evidence, but I have never heard of anybody with a single pet being required to get another or give up that pet, and I know lots of Jews who have one cat or dog.

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+1. Any source for "...not mating does not appear to cause distress to animals"? – msh210 May 10 '12 at 16:48
@msh210, just observation from friends who take in not-necessarily-altered animals, but I'll be talking with my vet later today anyway, so bli neder I'll try to ask for something concrete. Physically there doesn't seem to be any damage; how much emotional/psycholigical impact (1) is present and (2) we need to consider is harder to know. – Monica Cellio May 10 '12 at 17:35
How can one psychologically hurt an animal? – Shmuel Brin May 10 '12 at 17:50
@MonicaCellio It looks like that those commandments are not because of Tzaar Balei Chaim either – Shmuel Brin May 10 '12 at 18:01
@ShmuelBrin They get silenced for praying with it. I think it's because using it like that in prayer implies it is the only reason. Monica's diyuk does not exclude the existence of another reason, only another physical one. – Double AA May 10 '12 at 18:26

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