RRSPCA Victoria is preparing for bundles of kittens looking for new homes as kitten season commences in Victoria this month. Last financial year (19/20) saw 9,512 cats and kittens admitted into RSPCA Victoria’s care.
Kitten season runs from spring through to autumn each year and longer if temperatures stay warm.
Cats can start breeding from as young as 16 weeks and have very little difficulty conceiving and giving birth, so nearly every undesexed female cat who is exposed to an undesexed male during the warmer months will become pregnant. This results in thousands of kittens needing a home.
Kittens under 12 weeks old are the most vulnerable animal population at RSPCA Victoria. They are more prone to infectious diseases (e.g. cat flu) and require extra care that would normally be provided by their mother during the formative months of their development.
Tegan McPherson, Head of Operations at RSPCA Victoria says there are number of ways the community can address the issues associated with kitten season.
“It’s so important to desex your cats – desexing your cat is an important part of responsible cat ownership and there are many possible benefits.
“Not only does desexing reduce the number of unwanted cats and kittens that will need to go through animal welfare organisations to find a new home, desexing has many health benefits and can also reduce nuisance behaviours.
“Cats should be desexed before they reach the age at which they can start breeding which for many can be 16 weeks of age. It’s also important to know there is no benefit in letting females have one litter before they are desexed.
“If your cat is not desexed, it’s important to keep them contained. Contrary to popular belief indoor cats have the same, or better, quality of life than outdoor cats. Cats are also happier and healthier when contained indoors or in a secure outdoor enclosure. This will also prevent them from roaming and producing unwanted populations.” said Ms McPherson.
In addition to the high level of care required for kittens, cats and kittens are adopted at a much slower rate than dogs, and are six times less likely to be reclaimed than dogs. Thus a higher number of kittens places added pressure on animal welfare organisations such as RSPCA Victoria every year.
Safe Cat Safe Wildlife is a collaboration between RSPCA Victoria and Zoos Victoria which supports cat owners to transition their cats to an indoor-only lifestyle, keeping both cats and our native wildlife safe and protected.