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Beacon Senior News

It’s kitten season. Is your cat spayed/neutered?

May 24, 2021 11:32AM ● By Anna Stout
Four tiger striped kittens looking at camera from a pet bed

Spring brings the promise of renewal, reactivation and reconnection with its warm weather and longer days. But at animal shelters, spring marks the beginning of an exhausting and protracted annual event.

As I pulled up to Roice-Hurst Humane Society’s location in Delta recently, I noticed a box sitting innocuously next to the front door. At first, it didn’t strike me as out of place, as it’s common for supply donations to be left there after hours. But as I approached the building, something felt off.

You likely already guessed what was in the box. As I pried back the cardboard flaps, nine tiny tuxedo kittens blinked back at me with their baby-blue eyes and spat at me with the confidence of teeny tiny tigers. I was relieved to see all of them alive, for one, and apparently healthy and well socialized once they were comfortably situated in their kitty condo. These boxes of kittens left on our doorstep don’t always contain the same good fortune.

This litter of kittens is one of a multitude that’ll come through our doors over the next eight or nine months. While that might sound delightful to an avid kitten cuddler, the reality is each litter represents a tremendous investment of shelter resources. Kittens require round-the-clock bottle feeding with expensive milk replacement formula, medical care, and eventually vaccines and spay/neuter surgery. That can bring the total cost of a box of kittens (like this one) to over $1,000.

While this may seem like a shelter problem, it’s actually a community problem. Unvaccinated cats born on the streets can propagate disease and pass it on to pet cats and even humans. Cat overpopulation is a community health issue, not just an animal welfare one.

Despite the tendency to blame stray cats for all the unbridled reproducing, many owned cats are major contributors to overpopulation. Non-spayed pet cats that get out “just one time on accident” can come home with a delayed surprise for their owners a couple months later. When their owners decide to find homes for the kittens and send them to new families in the same unspayed state as the mother, the cycle repeats itself. That’s why any strategy to address the cat overpopulation problem must include owned pets.

Roice Hurst’s Grand Valley Cat Project is doing its part by providing barrier-free spay/neuter and trap-neuter-return services to all cats—owned and feral—in our target area. We believe that by focusing on one area and dedicating all our resources to the cats in that area until the population is managed, and then expanding outward and continuing with the same approach, we’ll achieve long-term population control.

Our community is an integral part of this solution, from committing to spaying and neutering their pet cats to supporting programs like Roice-Hurst Humane Society, Grand Valley Pets Alive, MCAS Pups Certificates and other groups that provide spay/neuter resources.

Learn about Roice-Hurst's upcoming Furry Friends Kids Camp.