4 small kittens in a basket

kitten season 101:
why spaying and neutering are critical

despite sounding like a festive holiday, kitten season is anything but. sadly, it’s a time of year that brings a lot of heartache to cat lovers. that’s because kitten season is best known as the time when scores of newborn kittens flood shelters and rescue organizations.

many people aren’t aware that cats can become pregnant as young as 6 to 7 months of age. and thanks to wandering outdoor cats, unwanted matings occur, setting off a domino effect that results in more and more kittens being produced. making matters worse, some of these young cats may even breed with siblings or parents, potentially resulting in genetic defects from inbreeding.

unfortunately, kitten season isn’t short, and typically lasts from early spring to late fall due to the reproductive system and fertility of cats.

so, while we want to celebrate our love for cats all year long, observe the following tips to offset some of kitten season’s unintended consequences:

  • spay and neuter your cat as soon as they are old enough (ideally at 4 to 6 months of age).

  • if you have financial constraints, know that there are many low-income spay-and-neuter clinics that will provide this at low cost.

  • keep your cat indoors — especially if they aren’t spayed or neutered yet. That’s because their hormones will drive them to escape outside to find a mate. If your cat starts to show signs of “the season,” such as acting very affectionate, yowling to go out, rubbing up against you, screaming constantly, raising her rump when you touch her, those are signs that she’s approaching her fertile days.

  • encourage your friends — especially those who live in the country on farms — to spay and neuter. This is especially important on farms, where cats can replicate very quickly, spreading disease and resulting in overpopulation.

while kittens are adorable, I’m personally a huge advocate of adopting adult cats. that’s because adult cats are often euthanized, as they aren’t as “cute” and are harder to adopt than cute kittens.

looking for more ways to help out this kitten season?

  • volunteer for a cat rescue or animal shelter — they’re always looking for foster parents and big-hearted people who can donate a couple of hours per week helping out at the shelter.

  • start a GoFundMe or online campaign to help coordinate funds for spaying and neutering.

  • donate supplies to a shelter; they are often in need of kitty litter, canned food, towels, newspapers and more!

  • consider adopting a cat for your existing pet — provided you don’t have too many already! That may also help save a life.