The Scoop on Kitten Season
by Sonia Ramos
The phrase “kitten season” generally sparks feelings of joy and awe for most cat lovers. For most animal shelters, however, kitten season means kicking everything into high gear to prepare for an influx of young homeless cats and then later securing adoptive homes for them. Before getting into the itty bitty kitty details, let’s start with defining what we mean when we say “kitten season.”
Kitten season takes place during the warmer months, usually peaking around early April and lasting as late as October. When the weather warms up, that’s when unaltered–or unspayed–female cats go into heat and are able to mate with unneutered male cats to conceive kittens. As cute as kittens are, it’s very easy for a community’s cat population to spiral out of control very quickly if cats are not spayed or neutered.
Cats can become pregnant beginning around four months of age and can become pregnant several times in a single year, bearing anywhere from four to eight kittens per litter. Multiply that by however many female cats are in a given area, and suddenly, you have hundreds of kittens. A female dog’s breeding cycle can take place any time throughout the year, and while homeless puppies are still a concern, shelters don’t often see such a sudden, great influx all at once of them. That fact alone is the reason why the stray cat population is so much higher than the stray dog population and why kitten season hits hard for animal shelters.
Animal shelters become easily overwhelmed during kitten season since there is typically a high volume of unwanted or homeless kittens being brought in for admission. Caring for kittens, especially neonate kittens, or kittens who are still nursing, can be daunting at times. Neonate kittens without their mom require around-the-clock care, including bottle feeding every few hours, and often are placed in a foster home since most animal shelters do not have the resources necessary to provide extensive care for neonates.
With that being said, you might be wondering what you and your community can do to help animal shelters during kitten season:
1) Spay or neuter all outdoor cats. This includes feral community cats, which can be done via a trap-neuter-return (TNR) procedure. In addition to helping lower a cat population, spaying and neutering a cat provides both male and female cats with health benefits such as the prevention of uterine infections, testicular cancer, or even breast tumors.
2) Volunteer to become a foster volunteer at your local animal shelter. Foster volunteers are a huge help in keeping things afloat when the kittens start pouring in!
3) If you or someone you know is looking for a kitten or two, opt to check out your local animal shelter’s available kittens for adoption.
Got questions about kittens, kitten admissions, or TNR? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 773-262-4000 extension 101.
Kittens are cute–we know it!–but they aren’t ready for adoption until they reach at least 8 weeks of age. For the most up-to-date list of cats currently available for adoption, always check our Adoptable Animals page first. Adoption visits are currently by appointment only, and book up fast, so keep an open heart and mind that available cats are subject to change–but we promise they’ll all make equally wonderful companions. You can book an appointment here; we recommend booking right away if you see a kitty that captures your heart.