Make an effort to reduce kitten population
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.