One thing Animal Protection Association (APA) has learned in our 20 years of saving lives is that every cat tells a story.

A few years back, a very young female cat came to us pregnant. She couldn’t have been more than 6 months old.

Peaches gave birth to five kittens but because she was so young, only little Pippa survived. Because Peaches was so young, she wasn’t able to produce milk or care for Pippa.

Luckily, there was another momma kitty in foster care with them, sweet Olivia, and she was able to provide Pippa what she needed.

It’s a good thing Pippa was such a fighter and her foster mom was so caring because sweet Pippa was in and out of the vet’s office frequently as she struggled to gain weight.

This story has a happy ending because Pippa is thriving now in her furever home — but it was sure touch-and-go for many weeks.

Most people don’t know that a cat can have her first litter at the age of 5 months. That’s why a key part of our mission is to promote spaying and neutering to help achieve a no-kill community.

Just one litter means that five more good homes must be found for the new kittens. That’s why there are so many strays, why our shelter is full of cats and why the number of unwanted cats/kittens is at an all-time high.

There are so many reasons why your cat should be spayed or neutered. For females, it means no heat cycles, there’s less desire for them to roam, and risk of mammary gland tumors and ovarian and/or uterine cancer is reduced or eliminated.

For males, it reduces or eliminates risk of spraying and marking, they have less desire to roam as well and the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated.

Here are some numbers about unspayed and unneutered cats and kittens that I think you will find shocking. Here’s how many cats one unspayed female, her mate and all of her offspring, producing two litters per year, with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter will produce in:

1 year: 12; 2 years: 67; 3 years: 376; 4 years: 2,107; 5 years: 11,801; 6 years: 66,088; 7 years: 370,092; 8 years: 2,072,514.

By spaying and neutering just one male and one female cat, more than 2,000 unwanted births can be prevented in just four years and more than 2 million in eight years.

At APA, all of our cats are spayed or neutered before they are made available for adoption. The Spay USA website has a list of low-cost clinics in our area where you can get your pet spayed or neutered.

Last year, we cared for more than 200 kittens. We are excited to have fewer than 40 kittens right now, but that number could skyrocket any day now.

That’s why we are busy planning our third-annual Itty Bitty Kitty Party to gather supplies and raise funds to help care for all of the kittens we will care for throughout the year.

The shower will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the APA shelter, 701 E. 11th St., Jeffersonville.

Please help us reduce the number of kittens by spaying or neutering your cats. We would love to have a waiting list for people wanting to adopt cats.

— Vicki Clark is president of the Animal Protection Association.

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