Summer is known as “kitten season” because the warm weather acts as a catalyst for bringing intact female cats into heat, usually every 3 weeks. One female cat can squeeze out at least 2 litters during these months, many of whom will be euthanized because of lack of space in the shelters.
Myth: They’re so cute that they’ll get adopted right away.
Wrong. If you’ve never visited an animal shelter in June, you might not be able to imagine the hordes of kittens up for adoption. It’s cute, but it’s sad at the same time, knowing that not all the kitties will get homes.
What about the mother cats?
Once their litters have been placed, the momma cats need homes, too. But who wants a adult cat when they can adopt a fluffy little wee kitten instead? The same is true for the other adult cats in the shelter — the euthanasia rate for this population jumps considerably during warmer months.
What about feral kittens?
If the kittens are young enough and still healthy, they will probably find homes, but the mama cats will almost certainly be euthanized.
Most feral litters aren’t healthy. It’s common for kittens to have conjunctivitis and upper respiratory infections, especially ferals. Although both illnesses are easily treatable with a course of wide-spectrum antibiotics, infected kittens are usually euthanized immediately unless a rescue takes them. Shelters simply don’t have the budgets to treat all those sick kittens.
How You Can Help
If you’d like to take a stand against the animal overpopulation problem, especially during kitten season, here’s how you can help:
- Spay and neuter your cats, even if they never go outdoors. As soon as a kitten is 2 months old and weighs 2 pounds, he or she can safely be altered.
- Donate funds, supplies and time to your local cat rescue or animal shelter.
- Volunteer to bottle-feed homeless kittens for your local rescue or shelter. Although it’s a lot of work, the sight of a tiny kitten sucking milk out of a baby bottle is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.
- Volunteer for an animal rescue. If possible, take an entire litter. Better yet, foster hard-to-place adult cats, who seldom get adopted during kitten season.
- Practice TNR (trap, neuter, return) with feral cat colonies, which means trapping them, having them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and then returning them to their habitats. The life of a feral cat is pretty dismal, but at least she won’t create more feral cats.
- Adopt your own cat, especially an adult one. If you opt for kittens, keep in mind that 2 are better than 1. Not only will they keep each other company, but they will delight you with their antics.