We are now coming into “kitten season” which in Ireland runs from approximately March-October. Kitten season occurs seasonally because the female cat has evolved into a “seasonally polyestrous” creature, meaning she comes into heat only during a particular time of year— during this time she is capable of having multiple pregnancies.
Most people in Ireland are aware of our problem with unwanted dogs: We have dog wardens, dog pounds, rescue organisations and re-homing centers all over the country for dogs. Government money is allocated each year to employ dog wardens and fund the rescue and re-homing of our country’s dogs.
But a lot of people are shocked to learn that there is no such provision in our government for cats. There is no “cat warden”, no mandatory micorchipping or “cat license” needed to own one. Most of the cat rescue organisations you will come across run on almost 100% fund raising and donations because so little (and often no) money is allocated to help cats.
DID YOU KNOW
Over 300,000 kittens are born in Ireland every year. Of those 180,000 kittens die before they are 4 months old.
An unspayed female cat, her unneutered mate and all of their offspring, producing 2 litters with 2.8 surviving kittens per year, can total 11,606,077 cats in only 9 years.
WHAT THE TERMS “NEUTERING” AND “SPAYING” MEAN AND WHEN SHOULD IT BE DONE?
“Spaying” and “neutering” are surgical procedures used to prevent pets from reproducing. In a female animal, “spaying” consists of removing the uterus and ovaries. The technical term is ovario-hysterectomy. For a male animal, “neutering” involves the removal of the testicles, and this is known as castration. The latest advice is that the operation can be done earlier, at 4 – 5 months of age. Since cats can become reproductively active at this earlier stage, it does make sense to get the operation done sooner rather than later, to minimise the risk of unwanted kittens.
WHAT TO DO WITH STRAY/FERAL CATS IN YOR AREA DURING THIS TIME?
Get involved with Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in your area. TNR is a program that involves the capture of stray and feral cats. After being spayed or neutered and vaccinated, the captured cat is released back to where he or she was found. The cats may also be released or into a managed feral cat colony where the cat will be provided food and rudimentary shelter by a human caretaker.
Leave newborn kittens with their mothers. Survival rates for newborn kittens without their mothers – even in a shelter environment – top out at about 50%. If you cannot capture the mother along with the kittens, wait until the kittens are at least 5 weeks of age before bringing them inside or to an animal shelter.
Look out for kittens on the road. Spring through fall, you are more likely to see small kittens living along roadsides. If you find a stray kitten on a roadside or elsewhere, and can safely transport the kitten to a local animal shelter, do so. Bear in mind that where there is one young kitten, there are likely more. If you can do so safely, search the vicinity of where the kitten was found for any siblings. You are very likely find more.
Know about “upper respiratory” infections. Upper respiratory infections (typically bacterial) affect many stray kittens. The most obvious symptom involves swollen, inflamed eyes. Often pus and discharge can be observed in the eyes and nose. When treated early, these infections can usually be cured with a prescription topical medicine. However, if left to fester, upper respiratory infections can result in permanent blindness, or even loss of one or both eyes. If you recover a kitten who appears ill, transport the kitten to the nearest animal hospital or rescue as soon as you can.
For more information about fostering or adopting from Mo Chara Animal Rescue, please call 087-2577182 (for cat adoptions and general queries) or 087-6576022 (for dog adoptions), email email@example.com or find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mocharaanimalrescue).
Don’t forget our charity shops are now open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm (Thurles: Knox Hall, and Cashel: Main Street). We thank you for your spectacular support of our fundraising sales in the past and hope that you will continue giving generously to the animals in our care through the purchase and donation of pre-loved goods!