Free Kittens Sign

Free Kittens

Free Kittens

I was driving down a dusty road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of mid-America. There were weatherboard houses on both sides of the road with plenty of space between them. The sun was hot. The road was empty. “Plenty of space in America”, I thought to myself. Then I spotted a beat up sign on the side of the road, “Free Kittens” it said. There is not enough space for unwanted cats, I thought.

Free kitten signs which can be seen in any country are signs in themselves. If we are honest they are a sign of our failure to successfully manage our relationship with the domestic cat. It was probably always so. In many countries there is little “management” of cats in relation to breeding. In America there is a greater concern about cat overpopulation and so a sign that reads “Kittens For Sale” is not something you want to see.

Free kitten signs indicate unwanted cats. These cats are immediately, extremely vulnerable. A cat shelter beckons where the chances of being put down are fairly high. Or the commercial market in animal testing is waiting in the wings to pick them up. I don’t know but I do know that an unwanted kitten is in a very vulnerable place and it would have been better if he had not been brought into the world.

I am sure there are many variations on the reasons why there are unwanted kittens. All of them come down to one thing: a failure to neuter the cat. I can actually sympathize with the people most likely to fail to make arrangements to neuter their cat. They probably live difficult lives themselves. A kitten or two come along. They provide company for a lonely person. They make her happy. Things are better and there is no thought to spaying or neutering. It doesn’t enter the person’s head or if it did the cost might put them off (although there are many low cost, discount, neutering programs in the United States). They put the matter on the back burner until….the kittens arrive.

“I had two cats” she says. “Then there were five and now I have twenty”. “Please take a kitten”, she pleads to a passer by who has seen the free kittens sign.

Here are eight more free kitten signs from Flickr photographers, published here under license. They are thumbnails. If you’d like to see the full, large format image please click on the thumbnail. You’ll arrive at a new page, a large picture and a short description.

We should hope never to see a free kittens sign again. I feel for these unwanted cats. People have a responsibility to make sure that all cats born are wanted and loved. That is the ideal. We won’t make that but we can do better. So many problems, arguments (between cat lovers and cat haters) and unhappiness stems from one individual person’s lack of care in taking preventative measures. Also unwanted cats turn into feral cats and feral cats tend to give ammunition to cat haters to criticize the cat generally.

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Free Kittens Sign — 3 Comments

  1. I totally agree. This is the route of all the problems for both cat lovers and haters. If only it could be written into the law somehow, reasonably. Such that one must have some license or some organised body to be accountable to if they have an un-fixed cat. I guess that might also seem pretty over controling. But if you are not allowed to own a cat that is not fixed, without being registered somewhere, perhaps people would spend the money on the operation and save paying the potential fine for not following the rules. This would be an added cost for breeders too hopefully. Breeders dont exactly help the situation really. There should be a limit on the number of breeders per breed and those that do exist legally should be looked at carefully. Well, cats are living beings aren’t they. So why not get serious about it.

    • Yes, Marc your last sentence pretty well sums it up for me. People are not serious about dealing with this. It is not seen as a problem by the politicians. Or if it is seen as a problem by some politicians they have not prioritized it. One factor is the economic crisis. In a better world financial climate that was stable perhaps that would help put the unwanted cat on the list of things to do.

  2. I agree too, it’s high time all kittens and cats were treated as living beings with the right to a good and loving home. To too many people they are just possessions, some just ‘have to have’ a kitten without considering the needs of a kitten or the cost of vaccinations, neutering etc
    Just recently someone asked our local Cats Protection why when someone wants to adopt a kitten, they charge so much.
    Not a thought in her head that all CP kittens are vaccinated, microchipped and neutered if old enough, all things that cost the charity money. She was obviously one of the type who would take up a ‘free kitten’ sign and the cat would end up in a bad home. Anything worth having is worth paying for and valued more.
    People who take free kittens are likely to relinquish the cat eventually, easy come easy go.
    There’s also the horror of free kittens ending up in labs!
    So many vulnerable little lives are left to fate.
    There is no excuse in England not to have a cat neutered, Cats Protection will give a voucher to anyone in financial difficulties and I’m sure our problems with too many homeless cats are not as bad as in the USA but they are bad enough at present with so many people struggling for money and our local Shelters are overflowing. Being no kill they are desperate to find homes for some of the many cats, but never for free!

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