Kitten season is coming to the Puget Sound area, and experts say it’s going to be a boom year.
Two factors — the weather and the pandemic — have created a “perfect storm,” according to Seattle Humane adoption program manager Melody Stone. The mild winter allowed cats to get out and mingle, while pandemic-related restrictions have prevented people from getting their pets neutered and spayed.
“There are a lot of kittens in our shelter, and there’s going to be a lot more that are going to be coming,” Stone said.
While an aggressive spaying and neutering campaign has kept the local cat population at bay, other areas haven’t had such luck, according to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society.
Many kittens will be coming from partner agencies outside of Puget Sound and Washington state, PAWS Cat City manager Rebecca Oertel said.
PAWS regularly takes transfers from Central and Eastern Washington where there have been challenges with spaying and neutering where services may be less accessible. Kitten transfers also come from states like California and Hawaii, where cats breed year-round because of the weather.
In Seattle, newborn kitten season starts around May and lasts until late November. However, the kittens are usually not available for adoption until they are around two months old and have reached a weight where they can be vaccinated and spayed, Stone said.
Right now, there are many neonatal kittens that are only available for fostering — not adopting. But experts say they expect adoptions to pick up next month.
Adoption managers are confident all the kittens will find homes. Stone said that more people have been interested in pets during the pandemic and that she expects that trend to continue through the summer.
Cats are “seasonally polyestrous,” Stone said, and go into heat when the weather becomes warmer and their offspring will have a better chance at survival.
Looking to adopt? Here are some tips:
Pay attention to the website. With the pandemic, shelters have adapted to the virtual environment. The Seattle Humane updates its website around 11 a.m. and has a pre-adoption questionnaire . Regional Animal Services of King County and PAWS also have frequently asked question pages that guide people through the process step by step.
Check out the pictures! Shelters often post pictures and descriptions of the pets available. While browsing pictures of kittens is a great way of procrastinating, the pages will also give potential adopters a sense of how those animals came to the shelter, their age and temperament.
Don’t get discouraged. Often people get frustrated after getting into a cycle of waiting for a specific animal and getting rejected, Stone said. “We think there’s gonna be lots of opportunity if you miss the first one,” she said.
Set aside a spare room. Whether you’re adopting a cat or a kitten, Oertel advised setting aside a room for the cat to transition to their new environment. “They need a smaller space to kind of decompress and get used to what is their new home,” she said.
Be patient and ask questions. Shelters are used to dealing with all types of owners, whether they are experienced cat parents or first-time adopters, Oertel said. However, what has been new is keeping the process fun and easy while staying safe during the pandemic. “We all love the matchmaking process and helping people find what they’re looking for,” she said.