It takes a village to save a cat

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The other day, someone said they had been to their local shelter and couldn’t find any kittens to be adopted. “I didn’t see even one kitten in the entire shelter,” he said. “Does that mean we have solved the overpopulation problem.”

How we wish; but no, what he experienced was the short lull between mid-November and early February where cats in aren’t getting pregnant or delivering litters. This lull varies from city to city and if you are located in a more temperate part of the U.S. you will definitely see kittens being born in late winter. But nonetheless, seeing a shelter empty of kittens during the winter can confuse people who think the overpopulation problem is resolved.

But cats are quite prolific and can reproduce three or four times a year easily if not fixed and exposed to the opposite sex (also not fixed). People still let their cats be indoor/outdoor cats and if those cats aren’t fixed, there will be litters born in your home (or in your neighborhood if you have a male cat), just two months later.

There is an informational/educational program called Fix by Five, a campaign of Marian’s Dream, that promotes fixing cats by five months old. The reason for the early fix is that kittens can get pregnant as early as four months old and deliver their first litter by the time they are six-months-old. These six-month-old kittens are not adult cats, but they are sexually mature and can begin producing litters every few months. By making sure all cats, whether they go outside or not, are fixed, can help reduce the number of cats that need homes and end up on our streets because there are not enough homes to go around.

So, what do you need to do? First, get your cats fixed. Find a low-cost spay-neuter clinic in your area, make an appointment, and get them sterilized, vaccinated, and microchipped. Second, encourage friends and family members to do the same. Third, work with your community to provide TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) to ensure the outdoor cats in your community won’t keep producing more cats. Finally, donate to your local spay-neuter clinic or feral cat groups to help fund spay-neuter and TNR in your community. It takes a village to end feline pet overpopulation, but it all starts with one villager taking the step to get their cat fixed.