Tails magazine presents...

Could Global Warming Be Causing a Kitten Boom?

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Kittens are certainly not what pop in my mind when I think about global warming. However, there might be a strong connection. In the spring, when the weather is warmer and days are longer, female cats are driven into heat which results in a few months of a boom of kitten births, referred to as kitten season. This kitten season usually begins in March or April, so spring and summer months have a high rate of kitten births. Shelter officials and veterinarians have been noticing that kitten season is starting earlier and lasting longer.

Examples of this phenomena:

-At the beginning of February ’07, the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society recorded a total cat intake of 672. By the end of the month, that number was 1,008.

-Rory Uhler, president of the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Cincinnati, reported that shelters in Cincinnati have no more room for kittens.

So, what does global warming have to do with this? Some experts say the rising temperatures could be altering cat reproductive cycles. Other experts, though, disagree stating that the reproductive cycle in cats is based on day length and light exposure, which are not changing. Still others believe the milder temperatures produced by global warming increase kitten survival rates. Another explanation for the kitten boom could be the warmer temperatures can bring on an earlier onset to puberty in cats, as has been seen in other mammals. Yet another explanation called the “food chain effect” that states the warmer temperatures increase the survival rates of rat and mice, which are prey for the feral cats. When these cats are able to catch and eat more prey, they are better able to thrive and reproduce.

No matter the explanation for the increased number of cats, that means an increased number of cats in shelters are euthanized. The Humane Society of the United States estimates 6 million to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelter each year and half of these animals are euthanized. Experts advise sterilization by neutering or spaying to decrease the cat population.

-Amanda Giffi

  1. Holy cute crisis! There are just so many more kittens to adopt now! Can you give me some tips on how to handle a house just FULL of kittens?

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