Mikey, a 1.5-year-young tabby cat at Second Chance Humane Society, loves belly rubs. (Courtesy photo)

Dear Pet Column,

I recently read a statistic from an article promoting the spay/neuter philosophy that left me awestruck, and I am wondering if it is true. The statement was that one unaltered cat could yield 420,000 cats in seven years (based on the average cat having a litter of six every year and each cat from that litter producing the same, etc.)? 

Sincerely, Snippy


Dear Snippy,

I have heard this statistic being kicked about and although such a daunting number would hopefully have many cat parents running to the vet office with their cat in tow for a little “nip and tuck,” I have to concede that the numbers are not based upon reality. For instance, they don’t take into consideration that not every cat born into a litter lives for seven-plus years. The numbers are also based upon every kitten born to the original cat and subsequent litters being female and remaining unaltered. 

So I did some research and found that five math professors at the University of Washington sat down with a calculator to determine a more accurate figure using more “reality-based” variables. The resulting number totaled between 100 and 400 cats originating from one unaltered female cat in a seven-year period. This sum is a bit of a deviation from 420,000, but still a substantial number requiring a lot of animal shelter space to care for this number of cats. 

I would hope this revised number would still have folks running to the vet. To put it into perspective, there are about 40 homeless cats at the Second Chance shelter right now and, trust me, that requires a substantial amount of kitty litter and kibble to keep us happy. 

Spay/neuter procedures were paused for several weeks due to COVID-related issues, but they have recently resumed. There are many physical and behavioral health benefits for pets that are spay/neutered, beyond it just being the responsible pet parenting choice to make. And Second Chance’s low-cost spay/neuter program eliminates the financial barriers to low-income families. They are scheduling appointments today so just give them a call.


My name is Mikey, a 1.5-year-young homeless male tabby. I am a very friendly dude that loves any attention I can get (being homeless was very lonely), and I absolutely adore belly rubs. I still enjoy kitty toys so I would make an entertaining companion for any family. I get along really well with dogs, sometimes I think I am one, and I think other cats would like me too. In closing, I will leave you with a bit of feline wisdom: Life is short, adopt a cat.

Second Chance Humane Society has been serving Ouray, Montrose & San Miguel counties for 26 years. Call 970-626-2273 or visit adoptmountainpets.org to learn how you can receive emergency food or medical services, adopt, volunteer, foster, or donate to our programs and services. Let us know what challenges you are facing in keeping your pets as part of your families.