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Kitten Boom: Lack of spay and neuters causes a heavy kitten season

Courtney Pedersen

During the initial COVID-19 shutdowns, Governor Whitmer declared spay and neuter non-essential veterinary procedures. Michigan is seeing a pretty big kitten season this year as a result.

With the COVID shutdowns, Michigan saw months where no pets were spayed or neutered. Now, many areas are seeing a Kitten Boom.


Allison Simpsa, a Trap-Neuter-Return advocate in the Traverse City area, said “kitten season definitely hit hard and fast this year."

TNR is when people trap feral cats to get them fixed and then return them to their original outdoor home.


Simpsa said in Michigan cats can give birth to up to three litters a season.


"They can get pregnant while they're still nursing a litter," Simpsa said. "So if you give the moms time it right, they can give birth, early spring, and then in the summer, and then again in the fall if they're so unfortunate.”


Simpsa said a cat can get pregnant at four months old and begin adding to the cycle.


Mystie Beckwith, owner of Karma Kat Cafe in Isabella County, said they usually get 30 kittens each summer. This year they have already received more than 80.


“I think all the kittens that were born last year are probably also having kittens this year," Beckwith said. "There's just not enough foster homes or homes I mean, I don't know how I'm gonna find homes for 80 kittens, that’s insane. Then I’ve got all the adults nobody wants anymore.”


Both Beckwith and Simpsa said they think the lack of spay and neuter procedures has added to the feral cat issue in their areas.


Simpsa said since many low cost clinics were not operational, people who practice TNR were unable to fix as many cats as usual.


“So the community cat population, unfortunately, has probably undone a lot of the work that people in TNR have done over the last few years because of this whole last season and the shutdown," Simpsa said.


Simpsa said a good way to avoid kitten booms is to reach out for help when you see one feral cat, before they begin to multiply.