Everything You Need To Know About Kitten Season
In spite of the fact that it is hard to separate the seasons while living in Sydney (an aside: lately, I have thought that Summer begins in October with the heat we have had, however the date-book lets me know otherwise), I saw on my calendar and from the Google Doodle that spelled out “Google” with delightful Spring blossoms that we have authoritatively entered Spring season. What’s more, in the animal kingdom, Spring season is synonymous with kittens. Lots of them. Every day.
I have compiled the most commonly asked questions (and answers) about kitten season.
1. What is kitten season?
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 autumn.
As cats have very little difficulty conceiving and giving birth, nearly every undesexed female cat who is exposed to one, or more, undesexed males will become pregnant. She may even be bred by more than one male, including those related to her. Even females who are nursing kittens can be rebred and have another litter in the same year.
2. Why does kitten season happen?
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. A cat can become pregnant at just 5 months old!
3. Kittens are really cute, why isn’t kitten season a good 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 that are already limited —like food, money, and space—are often stretched to their limit as shelters and other rescue groups 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.
4. What happens to all these kittens?
Kittens need to be fostered before they are able to be put to the public for adoption, fostering means that they are checked for any illnesses and cared for in a loving home with lots of play time and cuddles while they get old enough to be de-sexed. Kittens as young as 8 weeks old and weighing 1 kilogram can be de-sexed.
If kittens are not in the shelters they grow up in the wild meaning they can grow up to become a danger to native wildlife in their struggle to survive.
5. What can you do to help during kitten season?
- Spay or neuter your cat. Cats can become pregnant as young as 5 months old so it is important to make sure they are de-sexed not to add to the growing kitten population. If you are worried about the cost of this, speak with your local vet or shelter about financial assistance for this procedure. Try and keep your cat indoors, for their safety as well as their health.
- Volunteer at your local shelter. This could mean taking in some kittens for fostering, helping out in the adoption centres or could be something different.
- Adopt a cat rather than buying one from the pet store. This reduces numbers in shelters meaning that for every cat or kitten that is adopted, space is opened up for other cats.
6. How do you raise a kitten?
Try not to treat a kitten like a cat
A kitten requires totally distinctive consideration from a grown-up cat. kittens experience different phases of change through the first year. By eight weeks of age, a cat is weaned and prepared to eat kibble. Playing is an important part of growing up kittens and they need to be stimulated with different toys.
Socialize and reward good behavior
It’s important to introduce kittens to a variety of normal household situations and noises so that they don’t become fraidy cats and experience anxiety as older cats (for example, vacuuming). Lot’s of cuddles and play time with you will keep them socialised and feeling loved. Reward good behaviour with treats and cuddles.
Take the kittens to see a veterinarian as quickly as time permits
Make sure your kittens are vaccinated so they don’t get sick and are de-sexed when it is their time! It’s certainly difficult to be responsible for another 8 mouths to feed and raise during kitten season!
Meow for now … Kristian Taylor