Kitten Season and the Problems It Brings
Updated: May 14, 2022
Kitten Season Is Here!
It’s that time of year again. Countless unspayed female cats are having litters of cute, cuddly kittens. As nice as that sounds, most people can’t see the problem this causes. As the cat population continues to grow, there are more kittens euthanized because shelters are bursting at the seams with them. There are shelters that are no-kill, however it’s hard to find one that has room.
Here are a few reasons why there is a feline overpopulation problem.
It’s possible for cats to have more than one litter in a year, depending on where they live. A cat’s reproductive cycle is dependent on the environment. When Winter Solstice begins, so begins longer daylight. Females’ hormones kick in, and most unspayed cats go into heat by the end of January.
Spring brings on warmer weather in most places, and the kitten births start to climb. Some places that are warmer year-round, such as Arizona, Southern California, and Hawaii, may have a longer kitten season.
The statistics of the production of kittens are alarming. 2% of the feral and stray females in the U.S. are fixed. The females that aren’t neutered produce 80% of the kitten population a year.
A female can become pregnant by more than one father in one heat, meaning there is a good chance there will be more kittens.
Another fact most people don’t know is a female cat can get pregnant as young as 4 months. (A side note: Cats are considered kittens until they reach 1 year.)
Where I live, the cat colonies are everywhere. I used to volunteer for a cat rescue and saw hundreds of cats that were having multiple litters in one season. We would humanely trap them and take the mothers and their kittens to the vet to neuter them (if the kittens were at least 8 weeks). Then we set the mothers free in their original colony, as it would be next to impossible to train them to accept people. This process is referred to as TNR, or trap, neuter, and release.
We would take the kittens that are about 8 weeks, and help to make them “people friendly” and ready to go to loving homes. Each prospective guardian would have to undergo a complete “background check” to make sure they would take of the cat’s needs, and their lifestyle fits with the animal. In this way, we were reasonably sure our felines went to good homes.
For the past 25+ years, I have always had at least one cat, and they were all rescues, with the exception of one, who I took when the guardian was moving out of the area.
One of my cats was a barn cat who was pregnant. Eventually, the barn ran out of mice to feed the mother, so she resorted to scrounging in garbage cans for food to keep her and her unborn kittens healthy. When the three kittens were born, they took all the nutrients mom could find to eat. All four felines were starving.
One day, a neighbor caught sight of the mother and followed her back to her babies. Seeing they were near death, he called the rescue, and the founder saved them immediately.
The mother was used to people, as she was living in a barn, so she had little trouble acclimating. The three beautiful kittens were soon adopted, but as often happens, nobody wanted to adopt the adult cat.
I took her home and made her a part of my family. She soon became Princess Tiffany Marie, my “as God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” cat.
Be aware of the overpopulation problem in your area. Just because you are in a city doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. Another important issue is money. Give generously to your no-kill rescues. Lastly, if you see a feral cat colony don’t try to trap them on your own. Call a cat rescue and have them all of them humanely trapped.