Early spring means one thing in animal rescue… kitten season! Small, cute, snuggly and fun – who doesn’t love a kitten? Many potential adopters are looking for a kitten (or two!), and we love seeing cats of all ages find great homes.
However, even though we love cute kittens as much as the next cat-loving person, kitten season is an incredibly busy time of year and a reminder of the impact of pet overpopulation. Many people aren’t aware of the huge number of moms and kittens MEOW Foundation takes in each year and what that means for our operations.
Read on for more information about what kitten season is, how it impact animal rescues and what you can do to help us during this busy time!
What is kitten season anyway?
Unlike dogs and other animals that cycle multiple times per year, cat heat cycles often begin around the winter equinox in late December as daylight hours start to increase. They will continue to breed and have litters of kittens through the fall, when the number of kittens drop off drastically (but not completely!). Cats are also unique in that they stay in heat until they become pregnant!
Cats carry their babies for about two months, and then kitten season arrives! This season is the time of the year in which kittens are admitted to animal shelters in droves. As a no-kill organization, it is part of MEOW Foundation’s mission to ensure that we nurse every single kitten and cat to good health and find them the best possible forever home.
What does kitten season mean for rescues?
Litters of kittens can be anywhere from four to 12 kittens. They may be small, but each one needs their own medication, vaccines, supplies and space – not to mention care, attention and time from our amazing foster homes. Since we never know how many kittens will come through our doors in a given year, we always try to plan ahead to avoid scrambling for supplies and space. Even then, we’re always grateful for donations that help us keep up with the demand for our services. If our current numbers are any indication, this kitten season will be a busy one: the vast majority of kittens taken in this year were born within the past two months!
Kittens are delicate little creatures and fare best in a foster home where they can get some extra TLC. So when MEOW gets kittens or a pregnant cat, we work as quickly as possible to get them into a foster home. It’s only the end of May and we have taken in almost 60 kittens, so you can imagine the time and resources it takes to get all these little families into foster homes! This number will undoubtedly skyrocket soon and continue to grow throughout the fall.
In addition to cuddles, food and playtime, kittens require vet care – sometimes a lot of vet care. They are prone to gastrointestinal upset or other illnesses, which can require vet appointments or sometimes even a trip to an emergency vet clinic. This is in addition to food, milk replacer (if needed), vaccines and other supplies where the need is more predictable.
Rescuing and adopting is not enough
For many of our volunteers and foster homes – and for adopters too! – kitten season is a fun time of year. While we all love a cute kitten, kitten season is also a reminder of the impact of pet overpopulation and the importance of spaying and neutering. With every kitten season we’re reminded that without MEOW and other rescues, some of the kittens born would not end up in a home, or could even perish. Our Rescue and Adoption program is only one piece of the puzzle; the best way to extend our reach is to take broader action against pet overpopulation.
Many people are surprised to learn that in addition to our Rescue and Adoption program, MEOW Foundation also offers Spay Neuter Assistance (SNAP) and Trap Neuter Return (TNR) programs. SNAP helps Calgarians in need sterilize their cats at a low cost, while TNR humanely traps, sterilizes and returns feral cats to their community home in partnership with neighbourhood caregivers. SNAP and TNR also closely align with our no-kill policy. Fewer kittens born means that rescues are less likely to be overwhelmed, which can reduce rates of euthanasia in rescues.
In addition to the benefits of controlling pet overpopulation, spaying and neutering can have positive behavioural and health effects. Kitten season or not, MEOW always recommends spaying or neutering your cat!
How can you help?
There are a variety of ways you can help MEOW Foundation in our busy kitten season and year-round!
- Donate! We are always grateful for donations that go towards taking care of our precious cats and kittens. No amount is too small!
- Volunteer! Whether it’s at the Adoption Centre, our thrift shop or at our event booths for Calgary markets, giving your time is invaluable to us – plus, it can be just as beneficial to you! Volunteering with us can build relationships, create lasting memories and contribute to a feeling of greater purpose.
- Keep us in the loop! If you see a stray cat or litter of kittens in need, be sure to contact us. We’ll be glad to help in any way we can.
- Keep yourself in the loop! Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with any news about upcoming events, donation drives and other ways you can support MEOW cats.
- Share our message! Whether it’s telling a friend about us, sharing our social media posts or representing us with some MEOW merchandise, every step to spread awareness helps us improve the lives of even more cats.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean we have any plans to stop the flood of kitten content over the next few months! It is our hope that by spreading awareness and engaging the community, we’ll be able to make an even bigger impact and continue our life-saving work of Making Each One Wanted.