This week, leading pet charity Blue Cross is launching 'Sex Edu-cat-ion'. A new nationwide campaign which aims to reduce the number of unexpected pregnancies in young cats over kitten season, thus reducing the immense pressure on animal welfare charities.
Many pet owners are unaware that cats can become pregnant as young as four months old, so it is vital that they remain inside if they are unneutered, particularly over the summer months when cats predominantly breed - commonly known as ‘kitten season’.
Due to this lack of awareness, there is often a spike in unexpected cat pregnancies during April - September each year, leading to a significant increase in the number of kitten litters and pregnant young cats being left abandoned or unwanted - and putting a huge amount of pressure on animal welfare charities, like Blue Cross, who need to care for, and rehome them. The national pet charity has taken over 200 kittens into their care to date this year and is preparing for the numbers to rise.
Adding to the pressure this year is the fact that, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, vets have not been able to neuter kittens at their usual rate, which will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of pregnant young cats over the upcoming months if they are let outside. However, keeping your cat indoors over the hot summer period is not always an easy task, as they can become agitated and destructive. The Blue Cross is therefore offering support from their in-house behaviour team to those in need.
Through the launch of the Sex Edu-Cat-ion campaign – which is backed by cat-loving stars, Joanna Lumley, Anna Richardson and Asa Butterfield - Blue Cross is hoping to better inform UK cat owners about the importance of imparting some ‘tough love’ on their unneutered feline friends (both male and female) and keeping them safe indoors during these months, even if they are throwing a teenage tantrum.
Alison Thomas, joint head of veterinary service at Blue Cross, said: “Year after year we see rising numbers of unwanted and abandoned kittens which need a lot of care in our Centres and Hospitals. Many of these kittens can need round the clock care which puts a strain on our resources.
But it isn’t just these kittens and often the pregnant mothers themselves need urgent care. Many people are unaware that cats can get pregnant at only four months old – literally babies having babies. With COVID meaning pet owners are often unable to neuter their pets we need this campaign to reach as many people as possible to say keep those kitties inside!
It may be hard to share a home with cats who are desperate to get out and roam, but many male cats get hit by cars as they desperately try to reach a neighbourhood female, and litters of kittens can face an uncertain future when born outside. So, cat owners, please show some tough love – it’s the best thing you can do for them.”
Sex Education star Asa Butterfield – who owns two young cats, Lyra and Atlas – said:
“As a cat lover myself, I felt responsible to share the advice given by Blue Cross a part of their ‘Sex Edu-Cat-ion’ campaign. I was lucky to get my cats Lyra and Atlas neutered before lockdown, but many kittens that went to their new homes haven’t been! Your cute little balls of fluff (the kittens, that is) can turn into sex-obsessed hormonal teenagers quicker than you think. So, for the sake of your kitten, and the unwanted extra kittens that could spring into your world, get your kitty cat neutered.”
British Actress, Joanna Lumley – who lives with her two cats, Fleur and Pingu – said:
“Adorable kittens taken on during lockdown will soon become typical adolescents who will be wanting to get out there and party. Their teenage hormones will also be in overdrive and that’s why the Blue Cross ‘Sex Edu-Cat-ion’ campaign is a brilliant idea to prevent young cats having unplanned pregnancies and unwanted litters being born without homes to go to.”
British TV presenter Anna Richardson – who owns three cats called Toots, Marmaduke, and Dotty – said:
“Did you know that kittens as young as four months can get pregnant? Shocking. Kittens having kittens! We can’t tell them about the birds and the bees, but we can do what we can to help Blue Cross prevent thousands more unwanted kittens being born by accident. It’s all about ‘Sex Edu-cat-tion’ for people. Keep boy and girl cats indoors until they can be neutered, it’s as simple as that.”
If you need any cat or kitten advice on how to deal with the behaviours when keeping cats inside, the Blue Cross Behaviour Line is here to help. Call 0300 790 9903 for a no-judgement conversation, or visit www.bluecross.org.uk/contact-us