It’s June, and already SPCA shelters across B.C. are bracing for a flood of young, furry felines. People who work in animal welfare commonly refer to it as the “mountain of kittens” – an annual influx of kittens that starts in May and continues throughout the fall. In 2010, SPCA shelters across the province rescued more than 6,000 abandoned and surrendered kittens during the busy kitten season.
What makes this flood of unwanted kittens so frustrating is that pet overpopulation is a completely preventable problem. Affordable spay/neuter options exist in every community, but often it is people’s attitudes, not cost, that prevent them from doing the right thing for their pets. Domestic cats have a powerful need to breed, which in turn creates a strong desire to escape outdoors. Once outdoors, the course of nature is inevitable and litters of unwanted kittens are left at shelters, or worse, abandoned in parks and ravines. The number of abandoned kittens in B.C. is staggering, not surprising when you consider that, in just seven years, one unspayed cat and her offspring can produce more than 450,000 kittens!
In addition to preventing unwanted litters, ensuring that your cat is sterilized has many other benefits, including:
- A decrease in unwanted behaviours, such as roaming, spraying and vocalizing
- Increased safety for your pet – often cats who escape outdoors to breed are killed by predators or injured in accidents and territorial fights
- Less susceptibility to ovarian, uterine and testicular cancer
- Calmer and more interactive pets – once a cat is not distracted and driven by the need to reproduce, their bond with their guardians tends to be closer
There’s an old saying that “cats can’t add, but they sure can multiply”. Preventing the tragedy of pet overpopulation in our communities is a simple “fix”, but only if every pet guardian does his or her part. Visit spca.bc.ca or check with your veterinarian for more information, and if you are looking for a new kitten to add to your family this summer, please remember to make your local SPCA or rescue group your “first adoption option.”
– Lorie Chortyk is General Manager, Community Relations, for the BC SPCA.