When you hear the phrase “kitten season,” your mind may conjure images of sweet, fluffy kittens happily romping around on a sunny day. And of course, kittens are that cute.
The real situation isn’t sweet at all. For shelter workers, kitten season can be the very worst time of year.
Kitten season is the period when births peak. It happens twice each year: once in the spring and once in the fall. But the more intense kitten season happens in the spring.
An estimated 20 million kittens will be born this spring alone. There simply aren’t enough homes for all of them — instead, they overwhelm shelters, which are often taxed for space at the best of times.
“An enormous amount of kittens have nowhere to go. People bring them to shelters, and the shelters become overcrowded. Because it’s not spread out throughout the year, it’s a huge rush,” said PetSmart Charities program manager Bryan Kortis.
When resources are limited, staff is strained. They’re often forced to make tough decisions.
Spring fever starts seemingly endless summer of kittens
Generally, it starts around March and lasts until about June, but the actual length of the spring kitten season varies around the country. For instance, the Northeast may experience a shorter season compared to the Southwest, where cats can breed year-round because of the warm temperatures.
Dr. Steven Hansen has been president of the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) since 2013. He came from New York City. “For me coming from the Northeast, I was surprised how early these kittens started coming in,” he said.