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Coping with Kitten Season

  • Spread the word: The easiest way to make sure there are no kittens without homes is to spay or neuter your cats. Tim Mueller

Kitten season is the time of year when cats give birth, flooding animal shelters and rescue groups across the nation with homeless litters. Kitten season is really three seasons in one, starting in spring, peaking in late spring or early summer, and ending in fall.

Why a kitten season?

Why does kitten season occur? Because too many kittens are born when cats who are not spayed and neutered mate.

The easiest way to help reduce the overwhelming numbers of unwanted cats is to spay and neuter your own cat and encourage others to do the same. Unaltered cats are driven by their hormones and tend to sneak outdoors primarily in search of a mate. Mating just once can start a domino effect that can result in dozens, even hundreds or thousands of unwanted animals.

At 5 months, a cat can become pregnant

Why kitten season is too much of a cute thing

These unwanted cats and kittens, when not left on the street to fend for themselves, often turn up in large numbers at the local animal shelter and other rescue groups.

Resources already hard to come by—like food, money, and space—are often stretched to their limit as shelters and other rescue groups, which often take in thousands of adult animals every year, are inundated with homeless kittens. As shelters and rescue groups struggle to house as many cats as possible, the risk of illness increases.

The chances that an adult cat will find a home typically drop—they are generally overlooked by potential adopters when cute kittens are in abundance.

The burden often carries over to staff and vet services, who attempt to cope with the overwhelming number of cats.

Find an affordable spay/neuter >>

Five ways you can help

The vast numbers of cats cared for by shelters and other rescue groups, especially during kitten season, will not drop overnight and will not drop without you.

1. Spay or neuter your cats

Cats can become pregnant as young as five months of age. Fortunately, kittens as young as two months and weighing two pounds can be safely altered. Many people ask their veterinarian to spay or neuter their pet. If you have trouble affording the fee, check this list of groups offering spay/neuter assistance. And while it's always safest to keep your cat inside, it's especially important to do so before the cat is spayed or neutered. Keep your cat happy indoors and learn how to provide safe outdoor time.

2. Help your local shelter during kitten season (and all year)

Donate supplies, money or your time. Contact your local shelter to find out what's needed most. You can also volunteer at your local shelter's adoption events or promotions.

3. Care for homeless or feral (not tame) cats in your area

Work with your local animal control or feral cat group to help manage your neighborhood's feral and stray cat populations. More about helping feral cats »

4. Become a foster cat parent

Contact your local shelter or rescue group to learn more about becoming a foster parent for cats or kittens in need.

5. Adopt a cat

Open your home to new cat or adopt a playmate for your existing pets. Check out The Shelter Pet Project to find a new feline friend!

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