image of catsSpring heralds the birth of new life and is a welcomed break from the cold winter weather. But for animal welfare volunteers there is a darker side to the joy this otherwise brings.

The coming of the warmer days also signifies the beginning of cat and dog breeding season when many thousands of puppies and kittens will be born without homes. Despite the tireless efforts of volunteers many of these animals will not survive to see Christmas. And as council pounds start to overflow we are reminded of just how important it is to desex our pets.

Breeding season typically begins around September when we start to see the first groups of pregnant cats and very young kittens arrive at pounds. By early October the situation dramatically worsens, and a tidal wave of mums and kittens pour into pounds in fatal numbers.

If you are aware of any undesexed cats make it a priority to get them desexed now (even if they are a stray cat who you feed at work or in your street). Once they give birth their numbers will skyrocket and become their death sentence (they’ll attract the attention of unhappy residents or council rangers). The sheer volume of animals breeding concurrently will make it impossible for you to find homes for the kittens. The only solution is prevention.

As soon as a female cat gives birth she is immediately ready to mate again. In stray populations, the male cat will be hanging around waiting for this opportunity. This results in a second wave of kittens which are born just after Christmas. Again, rehoming is impossible because the numbers of animals they must compete with for homes is so great, plus people are typically on holidays and not ready to adopt until they return to work. Sadly, the majority of the animals born during this time will be killed.

There are many ways that people can make a difference to the lives of animals in our community during breeding season (the spring and summer months). This ranges from volunteering with an animal welfare organisation, adopting a rescued animal instead of buying one from a pet shop or simply learning about the issues affecting companion animals so you can inform your family and friends. But above all else, please ensure your pets are desexed.

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