It’s hard to see more kittens as a bad thing (after all, everyone loves kittens, right?). But if some animal experts are right, a bumper crop of kitties could be yet another product of global warming.
A story in the Kansas City InfoZine says that animal shelters are not only seeing more kittens, but a longer “kitten season.” That could be the result of several factors, but some of the article’s sources suggest that warmer temperatures, earlier in the year, could be sending female cats into heat earlier. Warmer temperatures could also be boosting the population rates of cats’ prey – rats and mice, for example. Or the temperatures could just be encouraging the survival of more newborn kittens.
There’s plenty of scientific research going on now drawing links between the survival of certain species’ populations, the health and other characteristics of those species, and warmer temperatures. A New York City park ranger once told me that warmer temperatures, and longer warm seasons, were driving up the squirrel population because they’re able to breed twice in a year. And an entomologist studying Yellowstone National Park told me that the bark beetles devastating pine trees in the West were not only thriving in warmer weather but also breeding a second time during the longer warmer seasons.
Of course, climate change won’t boost birth rates for every animal species. Many won’t be able to tolerate the myriad effects of global warming. But the implications of some animal baby booms could be vast. Could more generations in a year than previously born drive faster evolution? Could some species out-produce their competitors and alter the balance of their ecosystem? In some areas, that’s happening already.
Some say global warming may not be so good for kittens, such as the funny folks at http://globalwarminghateskittens.com/. But for what it’s worth, I can tell you my cat Ole would be very happy in a warmer world.