Overpopulation Is Reason Why Cat Rescues Are Inundated, Claims Research
Overpopulation in cats is recognised to contribute to high numbers of cats entering rescue shelters each year. New research suggests that the high number of unwanted kittens may be due to common misconceptions held by cat owners.
The research led by academics at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences is published online in the Veterinary Record.
The researchers obtained data from 715 cat owning households in a cross-sectional telephone survey. Demographic and lifestyle factors were assessed for their link with accidental litters and with owner knowledge of cat reproduction.
The study found 128 litters were produced by 552 female cats. Eighty per cent of litters were reported to be accidental. Multi-variable analysis identified that respondents were more likely to report an accidental litter of kittens if they believed a female cat should have a litter prior to being neutered, if they had more than one cat and if they rented rather than owned their home.
Misconceptions relating to cat reproduction were common. Despite the fact that female cats can get pregnant from four months of age, 83.5 per cent of cat owning respondents thought that the youngest age a cat could get pregnant was five months of age (or older), with over a quarter (26.4 per cent; 174/659) believing a female cat is unable to conceive until at least one year of age.
Almost half of respondents (49.0 per cent; 334/682) believed a female cat should have a litter before being neutered or were not sure; 38.8 per cent (264/681) thought that unneutered, related cats would not mate or were not sure.
The authors of the study, said: “We found that the vast majority of litters born to cats in the UK are unplanned. The number of unwanted litters being born could be dramatically reduced by approximately 850,000 each year if cat owners did not believe that a female cat should have a litter of kittens before being neutered.”
The study recommends that improving cat owner knowledge about how cats breed is likely to have a significant impact on the number of accidental litters born and as a result potentially reduce the number of unwanted cats entering animal welfare organisations each year.
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Purina kitten chow (dry) is the best, even my vet rmeeomcnds it. for kittens that are just learning to eat cat food, you soak it in warm (not hot) water first until soft. there used to be Purina milk formula kitten chow, if you can find that go with that gradually mix a few hard kibbles in the softened food as their teeth get stronger, until they are mostly eating hard food a diet completely made up of can food is not good for any meat eating animals teeth. the crunchy food helps to keep the teeth clean and strong. also in all this pet food scare Purina has never been implicated that i know of .yet.oh yeah there is a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral spray you can get at wal-mart a good addition to any kitty diet we had captured a litter of feral kittens (when i found them, the mother had them eating a ground squirrel) and we thought that kitten formula and mostly ground beef (raw) would be the preferred diet as they were eating raw meat already then 2 of them developed a weakness in the back legs that we couldn’t understand. we thought they were dying. we live over 100 miles round trip from the nearest vet, so we have to figure things out ourself alot of times. and a friend suggested vitamins and minerals we tried it and wow! in less than a week they were back to normal .so it never hurts to add a little to their diet, and it is a taste most of my cats beg me for. good luck with your kittens.