Written by Alison Malawey, Voices Editor
“Kitten season” sounds like something adorable, but in actuality, it’s the time of the year when stray cats have babies.
Usually around the warmest times of the year, kitten season can begin in early spring and run through late fall.
During this time, literally thousands of homeless kittens are born. It starts off small. In the spring, people start to bring handfuls of kittens to shelters, but in the summertime, it can be kitten overload.
In an interview with Best Friend magazine, Dana McCrory, president and CEO of Central Oklahoma Humane Society, said there have been days when up to 100 kittens are brought through their doors.
What happens to the kittens that aren’t brought to shelters? They continue to wonder the streets and make new kittens. A female cat can get pregnant as young as six months old, and their pregnancies last for about two months.
Unneutered strays can create cat colonies which are groups of cats that share the same food source and territory.
There are some people who advocate for “trap, neuter, release,” or TNR, programs instead of euthanizing. Groups of like minded people trap cats from colonies, spay or neuter them, and then release them back out into the world once they’ve recovered. They do this under the belief that it will help dwindle the population of pet overpopulation.
In 2004, Mark C. Anderson published a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that showed a spay/neuter rate as high as 88% of the feral cat population would be needed to merely stabilize population growth.
Anything less, the cat population would continue to increase. It was concluded through the study that euthanasia is more effective than TNR at controlling feral cat populations.
The Humane Society of the United States reports that 3 million pets are euthanized in shelters each year, and of those euthanized, approximately 2.4 million are healthy and treatable and could have been adopted into new homes.
The easiest way for people to help is to spay and neuter their own pets.
The National Organization to End Pet Overpopulation (NOPO) created Animal Birth Control (ABC) Clinic of Lawton in May 1985 as a way to offer a high-quality, low-cost neuter and spaying for pets, as well as vaccinations.
For those who think they don’t have the money to get their animals fixed, the ABC Clinic is a great solution.
Should your animals ever get out un-neutered, they could end up pregnant by a stray or another neighborhood animal that hasn’t been fixed that runs loose.
Should your pet get picked up by Animal Control and not be fixed, you could be fined by the city.
The cost of the fines could be more expensive than getting your pet fixed at the ABC Clinic.
I recently adopted two cats that had been living underneath the house behind mine.
I was able to get both animals fixed, vaccinated, dewormed and treated for flea/tick prevention all at the ABC Clinic.
As a full-time student who works part time at the mall, there’s no way I could have done that for two cats at another clinic.
Despite the evidence against TNR programs, I think they help improve the quality of life of stray cats. I could never bring myself to get an animal euthanized simply because there wasn’t enough space for it.
Should they get picked up by Animal Control and euthanized later, at least, if they’d been neutered, I’ve helped save the would-be lives that would have come from that one stray.
The Humane Society reports that 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year which is down from 13 million in 1973. Perhaps it’s from TNR programs. Perhaps it’s from pet owners making sure their pets are fixed. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
If you need to get your pets fixed but have been putting it off because you feel you can’t afford it, I recommend setting up an appointment at the ABC clinic by calling (580) 355-6985 or stopping by 85 N.E. 20th St., Lawton, Oklahoma.