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The kitten tsunami

Living

LOVE IS IN THE AIR Mid February is prime mating time for cats, and a good time to have your female feline spayed or male moggy neutered.

It’s not only humans who romance on St Valentine’s Day

Ask the vet
Esther Van Luipen

Your lovely cat is suddenly walking around the house loudly vocalising. She crouches down on her front legs and has her bum in the air. The tail is up straight and quivering. She is rubbing against the kitchen presses, the doors, the dog, your legs. What’s going on? Is your kitty ill? No, she’s just in lovesick! She’s trying to get out of the house to look for a suitable boyfriend.
In December, most cats are sexually not active. This has to do with the shorter spells of daylight. When December 21st comes, the days start getting longer again, and this is picked up by the brain of the queen. The brain then sends its signals to the ovaries, which start to make follicles. The follicles make the eggs ready, and produce oestrogen. And this hormone makes the queen behave in her embarrassing frisky way.
The queen goes mad looking for a tom. And of course there is always a tom ready to rock. This romancing starts around the end of January and is in full swing half-way through February.
Cats have an induced ovulation, which means that the stimulation of mating will make her ovulate at the same time. This is why queens always end up pregnant, and it is nearly 100 percent guaranteed that she will produce a litter of kittens 61-63 days later. The tom does a runner, so the queen will raise her litter of three to five kittens on her own. About two months later the kittens are ready to be weaned and re-homed.
Because nearly all unneutered cats mate around the same time, this ends up causing what animal shelters call a ‘kitten tsunami’ in May, June and July. During this period, they may be presented with several litters of kittens every day. Soon, they fill up, and can’t deal with any more kittens because of health and safety reasons for the cats.
I know that kittens are adorable, and that the whole mating, giving birth, nurturing and weaning is a beautiful and magical thing, but we still have an unbelievably big problem with an overpopulation of cats in Mayo. So now is the time to take action.
You’re just in time to prevent your kitty from having a litter of kittens and adding to the kitten tsunami. Now is the time to bring her to the vet to have her spayed.
All you need to do is make an appointment at your local veterinary practice. Your kitty will usually be admitted in the morning and discharged that evening. It is without a doubt the best thing you can do for the welfare of your furry feline friend.

> Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at living@mayonews.ie