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Science

Stray Cat Population Thrives with Longer Warm Seasons

[social_buttons]Feral cat populations are increasing dramatically worldwide as climate change causes warm breeding seasons to stretch into winter months.

Australia, the world’s Petri dish for the impacts of global warming, is reporting a rapid increase; in Melbourne alone the count of stray cats has increased to over 500,000, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is becoming concerned. “Warmer weather is improving breeding conditions, extending breeding seasons and reducing the natural attrition rate, resulting in thousands more kittens being born into lives of disease, neglect and starvation,” said spokesperson Andrew Foran.

Shelters across the United States have found a similar problem. For example, the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society took in 672 kittens in February 2007, but in February this year the facility received 1,008. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency backs up these numbers on their website, saying that small mammals are breeding earlier due to warmer temperatures.

However, experts are conflicted on the issue. Christine Petersen, an assistant professor at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said that warming should not affect feline breeding because their cycles are based on light, not heat.

Julie Levy, a veterinary professor at the University of Florida, said that the population numbers don’t lie. She said that cats, like other mammals, may be reaching puberty sooner in the warmer temperatures, thus increasing the number of fertile cats in the population and spurring the growth. But she still didn’t discount the idea that individual cats may be breeding more often or earlier as well.

“Domestic cats evolved from African ancestors,” she said. “Although they have adapted to climates throughout the world, it is possible that global warming is mimicking their ancient origins and helping them reach their full reproductive potential.”

Photo credit: clpeace on Flickr under Creative Commons license to edit.

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8 comments
  1. Uli

    Well, as poor Cam says (I do really pity you!), and in response to the person who suggest to “blow them away”, let’s go to the source of climate change, and that is not cats. Second, whether they breed sooner, longer, more often, or not, survival of kittens will be better in warmer conditions, as will be food availability to the females due to mice breeding better for the same reasons. And mice breed continuously. Does anyone remember why farmers of old once traded cats as a precious commodity? The famous “cat in the bag” that was so much desired, it was bought without being inspected first.
    Poor Cam is right in one thing – go to the source.

  2. Cam

    Ha ha! You green uneducated zealots make me laugh! If only you’d renounce your faith to carbonology you might actually rediscover real science for yourself once more. CO2-related climate change is a fraud (as an environmental scientist, who also once ‘believed’ I feel ashamed I once fell for this ‘con’). There is no one single piece of EVIDENCE, yet ALL the evidence is the other way. Never confuse cause and effect – yet everyone is!! Everything from sports results to increasing cat litters now being blamed on climate change. Laughable! And how the hell could you believe the USEPA, where proof exists (I have e-mail evidence of it) of them rigging temperature data and gagging internal whistleblowers. We wouldn’t dare consider other factors would we – the recessionary environment we are in, or the reduced rates of de-sexing. Everyone take a cold shower please.

  3. cchiovitti

    It’s times like this that make me wish I had a webcam. Last week my husband came home with an orphaned litter of 4 ferral kittens.

    Well, they’re not very ferral anymore. They have “taken over the joint” so to speak. As I type right now, 3 of them are at my feet and one is sitting on my neck. My other 2 cats are still unamused by the new developments.

    Please spay and neuter your pets. Please.

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