Although a litter of newborn kittens is indeed cute, that litter often signifies something that is not so cute -- the overwhelming issue of feline overpopulation everywhere. After all, a mother cat can bear multiple litters in just the span of one year.
Litters Per Year
According to the ASPCA, a sexually mature, fertile and healthy adult female cat typically has one or two litters annually, although it can be more. Each litter generally has four to six kittens. However, litter size varies depending on the circumstances. Younger, first-time mothers can have litters of just a single kitten, but more seasoned queens can have more than six kitties at one time -- definitely a daunting thought when it comes to overpopulation.
When you truly think about the numbers behind feline overpopulation, the concept can get even scarier. The Humane Society of Flower Mound, Texas, notes that over a mere seven years, a queen cat and her young ones can technically create up to 420,000 more kittens -- yikes. Cats are capable of reproducing very quickly. The typical feline gestation period is approximately nine weeks -- a far cry from the human average of nine months.
Unfixed male cats can reproduce whenever they want, wherever they want, regardless of mating season, although breeding is especially prevalent from February up until autumn. Male cats don't have heat cycles -- the little guys are always ready. The number of kittens that a tomcat can father throughout the years is relatively endless.
Neutering and Spaying
A highly effective way to keep cat offspring numbers under control is by spaying and neutering your household cats, especially if they ever go outdoors. And if your neighborhood is home to a large number of feral cats who are too unsocialized to be adopted, consider participating in a "trap, neuter, return" mission. This entails capturing a cat with a humane trap, sending him to a spay-neuter clinic for surgery, and then releasing him back out into his natural habitat once he has fully recovered.
- ASPCA: Pet Statistics
- ASPCA: Pet Overpopulation in the United States
- ASPCA Professional: Pet Overpopulation
- The Humane Society of the United States: Myths and Facts About Spaying and Neutering
- Animal Folks Minnesota: Issue > Facts
- Animal Humane Society: Cats in Crisis
- Humane Society of Flower Mound: Why Spay or Neuter?
- Animal Humane Society: Pet Sterilization
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