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Press Release

For Immediate Release: January 2, 2014
Contact: JOHNNIE SIMPSON, or (240) 482-3895
FRANCIE ISRAELI, or (202) 207-1134

Winter is prime breeding season for outdoor cats; Trap-Neuter-Return ends the breeding cycle

BETHESDA, MD—Spaying and neutering outdoor cats as part of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs becomes even more important during mid-winter, when communities can get ahead of prime “kitten season” by ending the breeding cycle now, according to Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s largest advocacy organization for cats.

“Before the ice thaws, outdoor cats are already pregnant,” says Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “The time for prevention is now. Trap-Neuter-Return is the best and most effective way to reduce the impact of ‘kitten season’ by preventing litters.”

During the early spring months, shelters see an influx of kittens being brought to the shelter under a number of circumstances—including well-intentioned individuals finding newborn litters outdoors with no sign of the mother.

“Most shelters are not equipped to care for young kittens, who have been separated from their mother too early,” Robinson says. “Neonatal kittens require around-the-clock care from trained staff or fosters. If these networks are not in place, many—if not most—kittens will be killed upon entering the shelter.”

Cats have a 63-day (nine-week) gestation period, so spring kittens are usually conceived in January and February. Robinson notes that cats can become pregnant as early as four months of age, meaning last spring’s kittens may be producing this year’s litters.

Through Trap-Neuter-Return, communities have the opportunity to stabilize outdoor cat populations—by ending the breeding cycle. Outdoor cats are humanely trapped, taken to a veterinary clinic to be neutered and vaccinated for rabies. While under anesthesia, the cats are eartipped (the left tip of the cat’s ear is removed) to identity them as neutered and vaccinated. Feral, unsocialized cats are returned to their outdoor homes, while friendly cats and kittens are fostered before adoption.

Communities that embrace TNR see fewer cats entering animal shelters, allowing the shelters to focus on adoption and education programs. More than 350 local governments nationwide have endorsed TNR as official policy for feral cats in their communities.

Alley Cat Allies provides a number of resources on its website ( including step-by-step instructions and videos on how to carry out TNR.

Individuals can find additional help at or request a list of local resources, including spay/neuter clinics and feral cat organizations, at


About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has nearly half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens nationwide. Their website is