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Cat Facts: ­Too Many Kittens

On July 19, 2014

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Kittens and puppies! The things of children’s dreams!

It’s difficult to acknowledge that a society could ever have too many soft, furry, fluffy kittens and puppies. But most of the world has just that ­ an overpopulation of dogs and cats. Even in this enlightened age, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year.

Our community cannot claim to be exempt from pet overpopulation, especially with regard to cats. We may feel we live in a responsible society where we and most of those we know believe in spay and neuter programs. But it is kitten season in southern Oregon, and proof is right in front of our eyes that cat population control is a major issue for this region. Local shelters are overrun with kittens!

The Medford Mail Tribune documented in May that all three animal rescue organizations in the valley ­ SoHumane, Jackson County Animal Care and Control and Committed Alliance to Strays (C.A.T.S.) ­ were “filled…to the max…” with kittens and cats. On June 26, the Mail Tribune, in an article entitled, “C.A.T.S. Sends Out an S.O.S.,” detailed how C.A.T.S. is running out of resources despite the community never running out of cats.

Let’s look at some of the facts of cat reproduction. Did you know that a female cat can:

  • Become pregnant as young as 4 months of age
  • Go into heat every month from spring through fall
  • Become pregnant even before completing weaning of her most recent litter

A relatively realistic computation based on cat reproduction and survival statistics illustrates that a single cat and her intact female­only offspring may produce as many as 49,000 surviving offspring in 10 years! That number boggles the mind.

So what can YOU do? Ensure that every cat you adopt is spayed or neutered. Ensure that stray cats you feed are also fixed. If you have feral cats that roam your property, look into trap, neuter and release programs. Do not think that letting Fluffy have just one litter so the “kids can experience it” is a good idea. Even though you may find homes for those six kittens that Fluffy gives birth to, it still takes those homes away from six other homeless cats. Don’t buy kittens or cats from breeders ­ adopt, don’t shop! Donate to local rescue organizations. If everyone donated just the cost of their morning coffee, it would make a difference to the organizations dedicated to addressing pet overpopulation locally.

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