According to the Humane Society, there are an estimated 30 to 40 million feral and stray cats, and only 2 percent have been spayed or neutered. The kittens that are born from this population of cats account for 80 percent of kittens in the United States.
This explosion of homeless cats – it’s called kitten season – has local rescues scrambling every spring. This year, there is a new challenge: fewer clinics performing spay and neuter surgeries because of Covid-19.
That leaves veterinarians working overtime to keep up with demand, often seven days a week. Sheets Pet Clinic and Cats First Spay Clinic performed 500 spay-neuter surgeries on feral cats and kittens in March and April.
“A cat can deliver kittens in two months,” says Sarah Hodges of Sheets Pet Clinic, “and then she can be pregnant again a few months after that.”
Kittens can start having their own babies in as little as six months – if they make it to that age.
The survival rate for kittens is low, and even into adulthood, feral cats may not live past four years.
Sarah says their motto is “if you feed it, fix it.”
It’s easier to get one cat fixed now than to wait less than a year and have 10 to 20 kittens suffering and needing care.