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Mar 25

What is Kitten Season?

Posted on March 25, 2019 at 12:44 PM by Lori Calvery

By Cimeron Morrissey
. This article appeared in Best Friends magazine.

The term “kitten season” sounds like something out of a children’s book ? a magical time when tiny purring fur-balls sprout like blossoms beneath rainbows in dew-kissed meadows. But to animal rescuers and shelters, the mere mention of it can make them snap to attention and double-check their preparations, like emergency teams bracing for a massive hurricane. While big-eyed baby cats are irresistibly cute, thousands of them can roll in all at once, making kitten season the most challenging time of the year in shelters around the country.

In most places across America, animals mate and give birth in spring. This phenomenon can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as longer days, better weather and more access to food, which means higher survival rates for the offspring of many species. Unlike other animals, though, cats can keep on reproducing, having litter after litter right up until the weather turns cold again. In many regions, kitten season can last from spring until early winter.

Sure, newborn felines are ridiculously adorable, with their sweet little faces, jellybean toes and tiny folded ears. It may sound like a dream come true to be swimming in kittens, but while the pitter-patter of a few furry paws is manageable, a downpour of kittens can quickly become a life-threatening flood.

However, sometimes it takes a storm ? the literal kind and the metaphorical kind — to bring out the best in people. The significant challenges posed by torrents of kittens have inspired both the creation of heroic new collaborative programs that are helping to save more lives than ever and preventive efforts to stem the tide. Even better news: If you’ve got five minutes to spare, you too can become a hero this kitten season.

It tends to start with a few litters showing up in shelters in early spring. By summer, they’re pouring in. According to Dana McCrory, president and CEO of Central Oklahoma Humane Society, there have been days when up to 100 kittens are brought through their doors. Just think of how difficult it would be to juggle that many intakes in a single day. Then, stop to consider how you would manage 100 more the next day. And the next, and the next, for weeks on end.


So, while kitten season isn’t an enchanting fairy tale with fluffy baby cats sliding down rainbow arcs, it doesn’t have to be an annual saga of epic floods either. We all have the power to help change the forecast.


To learn more about stray and feral cats and kittens, click here. 


To learn how to become at Contra Costa Animal Services kitten foster parent, call 925-608-8425.


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