Spring is in the air and so is kitten season. Even though we are in an endemic, there is no stopping Kitten Season from happening. Kitten season isn’t as happy and cuddly as it sounds. It actually comes with a lot of work and dedication from many animal rescues and fosters.
It’s the time of year when shelters across the country are filled to capacity with litters of unwanted cats. The weather is warmer in many areas and cats are out roaming. This means they are reproducing at a faster pace than during milder seasons. Many shelters are seeing the impact of this problem, which leads to extremely overcrowded conditions and often result to often in euthanasia.
When is Kitten Season?
As winter finally subsides and the weather begins to warm, many unaltered female cats go into heat. About sixty days later they begin giving birth to litters of kittens. During this time, many shelters become overwhelmed with unwanted kittens from March through October.
Why is There a Kitten Season?
Kitten season usually occurs when the weather warms up in the spring. The temperatures are warmer, daylight is longer, and cats are more active. All this helps to bring on your cat’s mating season. The peak of mating season is usually spring or late summer.
What Does Being ‘in Heat’ Mean?
When a cat is in heat, the cat is ready to mate and conceive kittens. There are only certain periods of the year when cats are in heat and that is generally aligned with warmer temperatures.
What is a Litter?
A litter is a number of kittens that a female cat can have through a pregnancy. A cat can be pregnant several times a year and have on average 4-8 kittens during a pregnancy. That means the cat population grows at a faster rate than the dog population. This is also why spaying or neutering your cat is so important.
How Many Litters Can a Cat Have?
A cat can have more than one litter through one pregnancy. How do you ask? Well, during the average 7-day period when cats are in heat, they can have encounters with multiple male cats. Therefore, cats can be impregnated by multiple male cats and have multiple litters all at once. This means they can actually give birth to kittens with different fathers all at the same time!
How Can You Help Control Kitten Season?
All of this information makes a strong case for spay or neuter your cat before they are of reproductive age. It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks, and ideally no older than 5 months old, to be spayed or neutered. Feline Fix by Five Initiative is designed to help veterinarians educate their clients on the medical, behavioral and community benefits of early spay/neuter. This routine medical procedure helps your cat stay healthier, happier, but most importantly, the choice to spay or neuter your cat helps save lives.
How Can You Help Local Shelters?
Fulfill Wish Lists
Many rescues and fosters create wish lists to make it easy for you to contribute exactly what is needed. Many of these lists have items such as cat food, bedding, litter, litter trays, carriers, collars, toys, or treats. As a safe bet, litter and food is always needed.
Wish lists save the shelter the work of ordering and make it easy for you to gift the shelter something useful; everybody wins! To find out if your local shelter has a wish list, just check their website or social platform.
Become a Foster Parent
If you are knowledgeable about cats, maybe consider becoming a foster pawrent to a pregnant mother cat or kittens. Contact your local shelter to see if they need help and tell them your level of experience. It is crucial that rescues have enough support from the community and have enough interest to help lessen the burden.It is crucial that cat rescues have enough support from the community and have enough interest to help lessen the burden. Click To Tweet
Fostering a mother cat relieves the shelter of a huge burden. Cats have a 67-day gestation period. Expect at least a 3-month commitment in order to care for a pregnant mother and her kittens. Fostering a pregnant cat is quite a bit more involved than simply fostering an adult cat, so keep that in mind
Taking Care of Kittens
Many shelters do not have the resources to care for kittens who are only 2-3 weeks old. At this age, they must be fed by bottle every few hours. Even kittens over 3 weeks old need to be placed in a secluded area while their immune system develops and are old enough for vaccinations.
If you are interested in caring for infant kittens, ask your local shelter if they offer training. Unfortunately, if shelters can’t find foster placements or care immediately, the kittens may not be able to survive.
Adopt, Don’t Shop!
If you have the space, adopting a cat during kitten season helps the shelter create more space to care for other homeless cats or kittens. If your home is full, you can still show support by advocating and bringing awareness to the adoption efforts of your local shelter or rescue. You can help by advertising the cats in their care or even soliciting donations of food or litter to help support the care for these animals. Talk to your friends and family and see who might be able to adopt a new friend. Who knows, you may even end up giving many cats and kittens their new furrever homes!Even if you're unable to adopt, you can still show support by advocating and bringing awareness to the adoption efforts of your local shelter or rescue. Click To Tweet
Donate Some Time
Shelters always need all the help they can get during kitten season. If you have free time, donate a few hours or even a day per week to your local shelter. If you are unable to donate time, you can always donate money to help provide care for animals in your community.
Prevent Pregnancy to Begin With!
Spaying female cats prevents them from going into heat. Female cats in heat may vocalize more, urinate more frequently (even in the house), and may also attract unwanted male visitors to your property. A female cat can become pregnant at four months of age. Each litter can produce several kittens which adds up quickly. To prevent pregnancy, spay or neuter your pet and keep your cat indoors. Check out our other blog Is it Important to Spay and Neuter Your Cat – (catsavant.com) for more information!
Do What You Can
Kitten season sounds very cute but shelters really need help during this time. You may not be able to do everything listed above but you can do what you can, when you can. Who knows, you may even find a new best friend along the way!
Get started by checking your local shelter’s website to see how you can help!