Weather and pandemic combine to extend the breeding period of cats, creating challenges for shelters and vets
One unexpected consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change has been the explosion of kitten numbers, which is confusing local veterinary practices and animal shelters.
The Humane Society of Southwest Washington has noticed a massive influx of kittens coming through their doors due to the longer cat season, or the time the cats give birth to their young. In Washington, cat season begins at the end of February or early March and lasts until October. However, he has not stopped since he started in 2021.
Megan Dennis, the shelter’s vice president of operations, said the animal shelter sent 611 kittens for adoption in 2021. There are still more felines coming to the shelter. Despite this influx, there is enough space and accommodations for the next kitten.
“This is not unique to Washington or Vancouver,” Dennis said. “It’s happening all over the country. It’s something we have to figure out and really try to navigate.”
Warmer weather, longer days, and increased access to food contribute to cat season. In 2021, shelter staff saw a significant increase in the number of cats being born and cats carrying. It is a fast and continuous cycle, as kittens can become pregnant when they are as young as 4 months old and can produce multiple litters per year.