Kitten Mortality

Part of Ireland's TNR Manual

How to Help Community Cats

It's estimated over 300,000 kittens are born in Ireland every year. Of those 180,000 kittens die before they are 4 months old. Kitten Mortality is high in Ireland for a number of reasons:

General attitudes

Animals aren't very well cared for as a rule.

Overpopulation and fertility

Not enough people understand that neutering is better for the cat - and is essential where overpopulation is such a problem. As a result:

  • Far too many kittens are born to already overburdened feral and stray populations in the wild and in farms, smallholdings and households. There's not enough food to go round. Malnourishment is rife. Bad in itself, malnourishment also means the cats and kittens have less behind them to fight off infection.
  • Unneutered tom cats fight and spread disease. In particular, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus  (FIV, the feline equivalent of HIV) and Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) are two terminal diseases spread by mating and fighting. The prevalence of these diseases and the discomfort and pain suffered by infected cats could be reduced immensely by a neutering programme.
  • The huge overpopulation problem means that some cat rescue centres kill cats and kittens as homes can't be found for them and re-releasing them is sometimes not an option. Well planned and executed Trap Neuter Return (TNR) programmes would reduce the perceived need for such rescue centres to kill healthy felines.


In addition to FIV and FeLV, mentioned above, there are a number of other diseases prevalent in the feline population. Many of them could be reduced or avoided through vaccination of domestic cats - again, not yet common practice in Ireland. Many others could be reduced through neutering, as mentioned above. These include:


People torture and kill animals for fun: drivers run over wildlife and domestic animals intentionally; teenagers and adults throw kittens to dogs; a butcher in Skibbereen cut a cat's leg off with a cleaver, because he could. There's more, but you get the idea.


Nature is cruel and even healthy, well-cared for kittens die.


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Part of Ireland's TNR Manual

How to Help Community Cats