Guest Columnist Michele C. Hollow: Dear Son, Why I Had To Say No To Kittens


Michele C. Hollow lives in South Orange, N.J., with her husband, Steven; son, Jordon, 12; and their two cats—Chai and Karma. Michele works as a freelance writer and is the creator of the pet lifestyle blog Pet News andViews (

Dear Jordon,

When we adopted Chai and Karma from the local animal shelter this past December, you were so happy. You wanted kittens because you were afraid that an older cat would not be around as long as a kitten.

I know the passing of Mr. Earl Gray, our cat who lived to be 20, was hard on you. When you were born, Earl was eight. You came into a house with a cat, and became fast friends with Earl. You also developed a fondness for animals.

So, we waited a bit after Earl died before getting another pet. We all miss Earl, and in time we all thought about getting another cat. I was opting for an older cat because kittens usually get adopted quicker than older cats.

Dad and I talked with you, and you made a great case for getting a kitten. I decided that we should get two so they could have a constant companion when we are out of the house.

The local shelter chose two sisters—an all-black cat, which we named Karma, and a tortoiseshell named Chai. We immediately bonded with the kittens. You even said, “Kittens are more fun to play with than dad’s iPad.”

They are great cats, and now they are almost six months—a perfect age to get them spayed. As you know, I write about pets, and I preach about the importance of spaying and neutering cats and dogs.

Each year between four and five million cats and dogs are euthanized at animal shelters around the country. When we went to the pound to adopt, after playing with Chai and Karma, one of the volunteers asked me if I wanted to see any other cats. I let out a big “No” because it breaks my heart just thinking about all of the animals that we left behind.

I know you said you wanted to see our cats give birth to kittens that we could keep and give away. Unfortunately, there are so many—too many—cats (and dogs) that are in need of loving homes. I won’t support breeders just because I think it is wrong to intentionally bring more cats and dogs into a world when our animal shelters are overcrowded.

I tell people all the time that if they desire a specific breed, they can find one at a breed-specific rescue. There are rescues for so many different types of cats and dogs. My first dog was a rescued poodle, and my first kitten was a stray Siamese.

And if you want to see babies being born, we can watch a video or read a book about kittens being born.

Spaying lengthens the life of a female cat (or dog), and helps to prevent breast cancer. The cost of spaying or neutering (a male cat or dog) is cheaper than caring for and raising a litter of kittens (or puppies).

Most importantly, I am going to have them spayed because of the millions of cats and dogs that enter shelters each year that are euthanized. These high numbers are a direct result of unplanned litters.

So just recently I took Chai and Karma to the vet to be spayed. Though I know you want babies, they could each have had four. And that would have given us 10 cats in all, too many for us to live with, much less care for.

Here’s what I now ask you to try to understand: with so many cats and kittens in need of foster homes, getting Chai and Karma spayed was actually an act of kindness.  


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