COLLEGE STATION, TX — The time of year when stray kittens are born to feral moms, also known as 'kitten season,' would normally begin this month in the Brazos Valley. But local animal rescues are puzzled by the surprising absence of kittens.
“This year is weird," noted Mallori Girard, co-founder of the Six Kittens Rescue in Bryan. "We kind of have called it the 'great kitten drought of 2021,' because there really haven’t been that many kittens born .”
Girard said her foster-based nonprofit is currently caring for more than 30 cats; mostly neonatal kittens born this past Christmas, and two pregnant moms. But that’s still not typical for February. Similarly, the Aggieland Humane Society is somewhat surprised to see relatively empty cages at its facility. Spokesperson Darby McKenzie said that over the past few years, the shelter has noticed kitten season shifting further towards the summertime, and a barren February has started to become the new normal.
"We call it the quiet before the storm," McKenzie said. "And this time we’re kind of prepping for that kitten season that we know will be coming.“
These rescue organizations aren’t sure what’s caused the lull in kitten birth, but both Girard and McKenzie suggested people take advantage of this time to have their animals spayed and neutered. Not only does spaying and neutering cats reduce the animals’ risk of contracting cancer, but Girard also said that keeping the stray kitten population low is helpful to the fosters and volunteers.
"We focus on the neonatal kittens because they are at an extremely high risk of anything causing their death,” Girard pointed out.
The Aggieland Humane Society offers spay and neuter services, along with trap-neuter-release [TNR] services for feral cat colonies. Girard mentioned that the Six Kittens Rescue can also help with spay and neuter services when the funds are available to them.