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Australia Working to Reduce the Number of Unwanted Kittens

22 September 2015
Australian Veterinary Association

AUSTRALIA - While spring brings warmer weather and longer days, it also signifies the start of the cat breeding season when thousands of kittens will be born without homes. President of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), Dr Robert Johnson, said that while vet clinics, pounds and shelters do a great job, they are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of unwanted cats and kittens.

“Breeding season varies depending on where you are in Australia. It typically begins around September when we start to see the first groups of pregnant cats and very young kittens arrive at vet clinics and shelters. By early October, the situation worsens with mums and kittens arriving in fatal numbers,” he said.

According to the AVA, the problem of unwanted cats and kittens is an ongoing challenge for Australian governments and communities at all levels.

“The AVA believes that the most effective way to make an impact on the problem involves a multi-pronged approach that’s appropriate to the situation in each state or local government area.”

This includes:

  • Understanding the problem – most unwanted cats and kittens ending up in shelters are stray or surrendered owned cats and kittens. Others may be feral or lost. The source of unwanted animals in each particular area needs to be identified and addressed.
  • Education – rather than feeding stray cats, it’s better to take ownership of them or take them to a shelter. Otherwise they will continue to breed in large numbers, further contributing to the problem.
  • Identification – microchipping and collars with tags are vital to ensure that lost animals can be returned to their owners without having to go to a pound or shelter and further adding to overcrowded facilities.
  • Desexing – that prevents pet cats having unwanted litters of kittens.
  • Targeted desexing programs – Targeted desexing programs in areas where there is an unusually low number of desexed cats can be an effective strategy to reduce unwanted animals in particular communities.
  • Enforcing regulation - regulations for breeding, keeping and selling companion animals need to be enforced to reduce impulse buying, poor animal welfare and euthanasia rates.

“And if you come across a litter of kittens in a public place, it’s important that you take them to your nearest shelter or vet clinic as they may need urgent medical attention,” Dr Johnson said.

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