What Is 'Kitten Season', And How Can You Help?
Kitten season is here!
While that might sound like a magical time of year, it's a challenging time for animal shelters and cat rescues across the country. Beginning in the spring, it's the time of year when cats mate and give birth. The length of this mating season can vary depending on region and climates, lasting longer where the weather is warmer or days are longer. Kitten season can last until the end of fall, even into early winter. The result? An incredibly high volume of kittens, either in the streets or in the shelters.
Cats are quite prolific breeders, with intact females able to become pregnant as young as 5 months old. They are also able to have several litters in one year! Cat litters average 4 to 6 kittens per litter, and if females have more than one litter in a year, and her kittens go on to have kittens just 5 months later ... well, that's a lot of kittens in need!
If you've found an abandoned kitten (or kittens) in need, check out our guide on what to do next!
So, how can you help?
1. Adopting a new cat
During peak kitten season, many shelters will be at full capacity with an influx of new kittens. If you've been considering getting a new cat, consider adopting during this busy time!
Kittens often do get adopted quickly (because who can resist those cute faces!), but adult cats can tend to get overlooked, especially those who are more timid in the busy shelter environment. If you're adopting, consider an older cat and seeing if you connect and helping give them the second chance they deserve.
2. Become a foster pet parent
Adopting a new cat might not be the right fit right now (it is a big, life-long commitment after all!). You might not be ready to take that big leap yet - or you may have too many cats already and can't adopt another, but still want to help.
You can by becoming a foster parent! Foster parents are amazing people making life-saving differences to rescue animals in need by temporarily providing housing and care for them until they're ready for adoption. Just one foster home could potentially help 20 kittens each kitten season! Fostering a kitten (or any animal) gives you the chance to single-handedly change an animal's life for the better.
Most foster programs provide training, resources and materials to help prepare you for being a foster pet parent! Depending on the animal's needs, fostering can range from two weeks to several months.
To get involved with fostering shelter animals, contact your local animal shelter or animal rescue. Organizations like the ASPCA and Best Friends also have a large network to help you find the right place to foster from!
At Meowingtons we work closely with and sponsor the Good Luck Cat Cafe, the adoption center for the 501c3 nonprofit rescue, Lady Luck Animal Rescue. Lady Luck is a small rescue that relies on foster pet parents to help save and care for kittens in South Florida. They are always looking for new foster parents to help rescue even more kittens! Below is a recent progress post from a foster parent who is helping raise four kittens who were left outside a building in a birdcage.
These kittens were found in a birdcage so we thought the most fitting names were from the movie. Meet Armand, Agador, Val (female) and Albert. They are all so sweet.Posted by Lady Luck Animal Rescue on Sunday, April 11, 2021
Check with your local shelters to see what sort of donations they may need during kitten season, whether it's a cash donation or in-kind donations like blankets, towels, carriers, and toys suitable for sanitizing. Every little bit helps when it comes to helping change the life of an animal in need.
You can even donate your time by volunteering! Contact your local shelters to see about volunteering your time, whether it be to come cuddle the shier shelter residents who need a bit of help with their socializing.
4. Ensure your cats at home are spayed or neutered!
Once kitten season comes, intact male and female cats may wander from home seeking out a mate. Even intact indoor-only cats can get this urge to wander and seek out a mate - and a lot of pet owners know firsthand that cats are excellent at sneaking out and coming home with a surprise litter of kittens! One way to prevent surprise litters that owners may not be able to care for is to spay and neuter their cats.
But did you know spaying and neutering can actually improve your pet’s health, curb behavioral issues, and help save on the long-term cost of veterinary care? Read more about reasons to spay/neuter your cat here.
Dimitri Houtteman, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
5. Get involved with local Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) initiatives.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs help to stabilize the feral and stray cat numbers, as well as slowing its rise during kitten season, as well as improving the lives of outdoor cats, feral or stray, through sterilization and vaccination efforts. TNR efforts seek the prevention of excess litters and deadly disease.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a proven humane method to spay or neuter unaltered feral cats by safely trapping them, then returning them to the location where they were picked up.
- Trap: All feral cats in a colony, or as many as possible, are humanely trapped.
- Neuter: The trapped cats are taken to an animal or veterinary clinic to be spayed or neutered, receive vaccinations, and are sometimes marked by eartipping to let people know that the cat has been through the TNR process.
- Return: Healthy adult feral cats are returned to their outdoor homes, where their lives are greatly improved without the strains of mating behaviors (aggression, fighting) and pregnancy. Stray cats and kittens that are socialized to humans are adopted into homes.
Hi Amanda! Thank you so much for your comment. We couldn’t agree more, your cats have to come first! Fostering should only be done when everyone in the household (kitties included) are on board, so to say! I am in the same situation with an 18 year old cat who, when we fostered kittens when he was only around 5 or 6, absolutely hated them – even though he never saw them! He could hear them meowing and totally freaked out.
As for finding and supporting local TNR programs, a great way to start is simply googling “trap-neuter-release program near me” or “trap neuter release.” This may lead you to some local organizations and how to get involved! :) Good luck!
I would sooo love to be a foster cat parent, unfortunately I have 2 cats who are both older and already have a bit of a rivalry and are super touchy so, as long as my babies are around I won’t be able to foster. It makes me sad, but my cats have to come first 😕 I would really love to support TNR programs though, as well. How do I find them in my area?
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