Make an ef­fort to re­duce kit­ten pop­u­la­tion

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

It’s of­fi­cially May and kit­ten sea­son is just revving up — of course, that sounds more fun and adorable than it is in re­al­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of the United States, “kit­ten sea­son” runs pri­mar­ily spring through early fall, peak­ing in late spring or early sum­mer. It’s the birthing sea­son for most cats, but it’s not all cud­dly and cute: Many an­i­mal shel­ters be­come over­crowded with home­less lit­ters as a re­sult, and res­cue groups can’t fos­ter or get them adopted fast enough.

The over­crowd­ing in shel­ters can mean dis­ease spreads to more an­i­mals, and with a sur­plus of kit­tens up for grabs, older cats who need a sta­ble home and would make a great fam­ily pet are of­ten ig­nored. And shel­ter staff be­come in­un­dated with new kit­tens need­ing re­sources and place­ment, and can grow over­whelmed as a re­sult.

A cat can be­come preg­nant at just 5 months of age, the hu­mane so­ci­ety re­ports. You may have heard the stag­ger­ing the­ory that a fe­male cat on av­er­age births one to eight kit­tens per lit­ter and can do this two to three times per year, po­ten­tially spawn­ing more than 100 kit­tens in a sin­gle life­time. And that’s just one cat — one cat who has not been spayed, that is.

So how can you help keep this fe­line epi­demic in check? The hu­mane so­ci­ety of­fers five ways:

1) Get your cats spayed or neutered. There’s no need to wait. Kit­tens as young as 2 months weigh­ing 2 pounds can safely un­dergo this pro­ce­dure. If money is an is­sue, there are lo­cal groups avail­able of­fer­ing low-cost spay and neuter ser­vices, such as the Calvert Well Pet Clinic. The non­profit South­ern Mary­land Spay and Neuter Inc. also as­sists with spay and neuter costs through its Stop Pet Over­pop­u­la­tion Thrift shop (SPOT) in St. Leonard. Prof­its made through the sale of do­nated items help pro­vide grants to in­di­vid­u­als and lo­cal hu­mane or­ga­ni­za­tions.

2) Help a lo­cal shel­ter, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing this time of year when they need it most. The Hu­mane So­ci­ety of Charles County and Tri-County An­i­mal Shel­ter could al­ways use do­na­tions of sup­plies, money and vol­un­teer time.

3) Fos­ter a cat or lit­ter of kit­tens. Res­cue groups like Last Chance An­i­mal Res­cue need will­ing and car­ing fos­ter vol­un­teers to pro­vide love and care for these home­less pets be­fore they can be adopted into their for­ever homes. It re­lieves shel­ters of the bur­den of hav­ing to house more an­i­mals in an al­ready high-vol­ume time of year.

4) Join a trap/neuter/re­lease ini­tia­tive in your neigh­bor­hood. Friends of Fe­lines em­ploys a trap/neuter/ re­turn/man­age tech­nique in com­mu­ni­ties through­out neigh­bor­ing Calvert County, safely trap­ping feral cats in ar­eas where cat colonies spring up and, through char­ity as­sis­tance, get­ting them spayed and neutered so they can be re­turned to the wild with­out the abil­ity to con­tinue re­pro­duc­ing, thereby end­ing the colony prob­lem. Some of the more adopt­able cats are put into fos­ter homes after they’re surg­eries, un­til they can be adopted into a lov­ing home.

5) And along those lines, the fi­nal mea­sure you can take to help dur­ing kit­ten sea­son is to adopt a kit­ten or cat. While we named just a hand­ful of lo­cal shel­ters and res­cues through which you can find a fe­line fam­ily com­pan­ion, there are many oth­ers out there eas­ily re­search­able on­line. Browse this sea­son’s cats and kit­tens in search of their for­ever homes, make the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion of choos­ing which one (or which ones) are the best fit for your house­hold and help stem the tide of feral cat over­pop­u­la­tion and shel­ter crowd­ing.

Kit­ten sea­son can still be cute — if we can col­lec­tively help to man­age it.

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