Yes, it’s true. We’ve officially entered the beginning of Kitten Season, the time of year that female cats give birth like it’s their only job, flooding area shelters and inundating rescues with adorable, terrifying burdens. For as cute as the little buggers are, it’s still a heartbreaking time of year for all of us. Here’s how you can help:
1. Spay or Neuter Your Cats (And Educate Others) – There is no other action that will make more of a difference in cat overpopulation than having your pet altered. It’s a simple, routine surgery that can be performed by a licensed veterinarian in a private veterinary practice, at a clinic or even at a shelter for a range of prices. In many communities, the surgery may even be free or available at very low cost. But despite its availability, amazingly some people still insist on keeping their animals intact. When possible, educate these people about the realities of pet overpopulation and, if warranted, remind them that many cities require a breeder’s permit to own an intact animal.
2. Assist your Local Trap-Neuter-Release Feral Program – As you know, not all kittens need to be socialized and placed into homes. If the circumstances are right, cats can live out their days in an established feral colony. But even in this scenario, humans still play an essential role in caring for the cats by providing food, shelter and TNR. Trap-Neuter-Release programs, where community cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, and returned to their colony, are the only proven way to maintain a feral population while avoiding overpopulation. If you can’t trap yourself, consider lobbying your local government to officially condone or support such a program.
3. Volunteer at your Local Animal Shelter, and Foster if You Are Able – From Early Spring through the Fall, animal shelters are overrun with kitten litters, many of which require round the clock care. Even in the most well-funded shelter, this strains resources and can lead to difficult choices about their adoptable pet population. By volunteering, you help relieve some of this burden. And if at all possible, consider fostering, where you care for a cat in your own home. You need not foster a kitten; in fact, by fostering an older cat, you’re providing that cat with a much better chance to eventually be adopted AND you’re freeing up a cage for the onslaught on kittens.
4. Adopt Another Cat – If it’s a good decision for you, consider adopting another cat at this time. Not only will you save a life, but the shelter will be able to direct those resources to the care of other cats.
It’s essential to remember that if you come across a litter of kittens, you have a big decision to make regarding their future. Many of your next steps will be determined by what personal resources you have available, what situation the kittens are in (is their mom present? are they sick? do they belong to someone?), and what community support you may receive. For more information on these decisions and more, please take a look at Alley Cat Allies’ “How and When to Care for and Socialize Feral Kittens.”
By working together, we can help make the world a safer place for all cats, especially during the dreaded season known as “kitten.”