What kitten season actually means
Welp, I am not kitten around when I say there are a lot of cats and kittens in need of foster homes right now. Sorry, I had to. Every time I volunteer at Chicago Animal Care & Control, I see new litters and moms pouring in. In some ways, it’s so much fun. However, kitten season has a big impact on our shelters and it’s a very concerning issue when Spring hits.
Have you heard the term “kitten season” before? My assumption (if you’re reading an animal-friendly blog) is that yes. However, most people (myself included) aren’t totally aware of the science behind it. So, here we are for our monthly science lesson.
Cats are seasonally polyestrous, meaning they go into heat multiple times during breeding season. Once Chicago (and every other city) starts to thaw out, cats turn on the romance and start having babies. They usually start to mate once the days are longer and temps are warmer, thus increasing the survival rate of their litters. Cats’ gestation period is about 60 days so they can (and generally do) have multiple litters in breeding season.
While kitten season is undeniably cute, it’s also incredibly taxing on the sheltering system. Kittens, especially those less than three weeks old, need round the clock care. If the kittens are orphaned, they need to be bottle-fed every 3-4 hours. It’s almost impossible to provide the kind of care that kittens need when staff and volunteers are already short-handed. Kittens require a lot of attention that the majority of shelters cannot provide.
Not only are they tedious, but they’re also extremely fragile and susceptible to diseases found in most shelters. Things like upper respiratory infections, which are common in shelters, can be deadly for kittens. Their chances of survival greatly increase when they are placed in foster care vs a shelter setting.
Lastly, cats become sexually mature as early as six months. This means that kittens are having kittens which contributes to the overpopulation problem. TNR programs are key in helping to control our outdoor and feral cat population. Without these initiatives, our city shelters (and those across the country) would be even more overloaded than they currently are.
So what can you do? The first and most impactful thing would be to foster. People are often concerned they don’t have enough space, but if you have a spare bathroom or bedroom, you’ve got more than enough! Just think that kittens at shelters only have a 2’x3x2′ cage, I’m sure any space you have is bigger than that! Most foster programs will help with supplies and veterinary care. Interested in fostering? Fill out this survey and I’ll connect you to the right rescue!
Can’t foster? Consider volunteering! Again, I can help you get started and find a rescue that can use your skills. If you can’t volunteer or foster, consider sharing this article with friends/family who may be able to. If all those don’t work, kittens are costly so please consider making a donation to a local cat rescue. You may also donate to Rescue Chicago and request your donation be used for cats of CACC.
In summary, kitten season is my favorite and least favorite time of year. I love getting to see and hold so many precious baby kitties. Unfortunately, I know the toll it takes on our shelters across the US. So please consider getting involved in some way and help us save more fluffs like these!
Meet my fosters! They’re currently waiting for their spay surgeries but you can apply for Jessica, Adam, Rushi, Rebecca, and Shaun now!
The final feral tee is here! I wanted to create a bright and basic piece to add to the rest of the collection. This unisex cotton tee may not be fancy, but I’ll be wearing it on repeat with jeans, skirts, and shorts all summer long. Proceeds from this shirt will benefit Rescue Chicago. Shop it here!