Kitten season. It sounds like something good, right? After all, when you say “hockey season” or “strawberry season” those bring good things to mind. And who isn’t charmed by adorable balls of fluffy kittens? So then, why is kitten season not necessarily the happiest time of year at the Humane Society?
Kitten season starts with (future) mama cats going in to heat. They attract one – or often more than one – male cat looking to be a kitten daddy, and then natural instincts take over. About 8 weeks later, these unspayed cat moms pop out a litter of kitten babies. And there you have it. These kittens make their way to the Humane Society in a variety of ways, causing the flood of intake called kitten season. Sometimes the moms have a home and just slipped out the door looking for some action. And then they have their kittens in the closet and as they grow up their human family tries to find homes for them but…there are already so many kittens out there that they end up bringing the babies to the Humane Society. Or sometimes those mamas live outside, and one day when they’re out hunting to bring home the mice to their kittens a caring person comes along and finds them and thinks they’re orphaned and picks them up and brings them to the Humane Society. Or sometimes, they’re found by someone who is sick and tired of all the cats using his yard as a litter box and he decides that the area doesn’t need any more cats and again, the kittens are brought to the Humane Society. Some of the kittens come in too young to be away from their mom and need bottle feeding, while others have medical issues like eye and respiratory infections or feline AIDS or leukemia, and others have never learned to trust humans so they need a lot of special care to become social and friendly.
The good news is that all the people who have been coming in during the winter asking to adopt kittens are happy and finding adorable kittens to adopt and give loving homes to. But the bad news is that there are many more kittens being born than there are homes for, which is where you come in! So, how can you help?
- Adopt – If you have room for another feline friend in your life please do so. Every cat or kitten who is adopted frees up a space in our adoption program for a new one to come in.
- Foster – Many kittens that come in are not ready for adoption yet. They need medical care, or socialization, or just time to grow and a kennel isn’t the best place for that. Loaning out your bathroom to a group of kitten babies can be just what they need to get ready to find fur-ever homes. We provide all medical care and supplies to our foster homes. To learn more or get started please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fix your cat – If your cat isn’t fixed then soon enough they’re going to be part of the problem. Did you know that cats can start getting pregnant at 5 months old? And that kitten brothers and sisters have no qualms about making babies together? Cats can be spayed or neutered at the Humane Society spay/neuter clinic (link) for only $50. Call 519-966-1118 to book their appointment today.
- Fix the cat by your back door – Is there a cat who occasionally stops by your back door for a meal? Pretty soon she’s going to show up with her new little family, leaving you a lot more mouths to feed. By spending $50 to have her spayed (or neutered if he’s a male) you can make their life much better, and also prevent the population explosion that will otherwise take place in your backyard. When free-roaming cats are fixed at our clinic they can be brought in without an appointment as long as they’re in a live trap (we can loan you the trap), and they will receive a free ear tip and microchip upon request. The ear tip will immediately identify them as spayed or neutered, and the microchip will help them get back to their home base with you if they ever become lost.
- Use caution when “helping” – Sometimes trying to help isn’t really helping. Baby kittens do best with their mom and siblings, and just because they’re alone doesn’t mean they’re abandoned. Please call us for advice about how to proceed if you aren’t sure if a mom is around.
The good news is that steps being taken in Windsor and Essex County are helping to reduce cat overpopulation in our area, and making kitten season a little less overwhelming. The Humane Society’s spay/neuter clinic was one of the first of its kind in Ontario, and has fixed almost 16,000 animals since we opened in 2011. Five area municipalities (Windsor, Essex, Tecumseh, LaSalle, and Kingsville) offer spay/neuter vouchers which help residents fix community cats and low income residents fix their own cats to prevent future community cats. And all of these efforts are paying off and reducing the number of kittens being born. Between 2011 (when our clinic opened) and 2014 cat intake at the Humane Society has dropped by 25%. Many people and rescue groups in our community are also implementing TNR programs and finding homes for community cats and at the Humane Society we’ve also worked hard to increase adoptions, transfers, and implement other innovative programs to help community cats. We can only continue to make progress with your support, and hope that you will continue to support these life-saving programs.