I'm at the Best Friends Animal Society No More Homeless Pets Conference in Jacksonville right now. In the elevator this morning, I overheard a person wearing a t-shirt supporting spay/neuter efforts tell her companion that two unaltered cats and their descendants will produce... wait for it... 10 million kittens in 12 years.
I interrupted her and told her that yesterday, at the day-long Face to Face with Feral Freedom session, Dr. Julie Levy of the University of Florida shelter medicine program -- who knows as much about community cats as anyone alive, and has done more research on them than anyone, too -- said that no one knows the actual number of community cats in the United States, but the number lies somewhere between 10-90 million.
So those two unaltered cats were pretty busy 12 years ago.
I'm going to reiterate a point I've made before, but this time in even simpler terms: We don't make neuter-return programs more attractive to government agencies, politicians, and community members by wildly inflating the reproductive capacity of cats.
Doing so only creates the impression that cats are a pest species that breeds like flies.
If it were true, not only would cats be the only species on earth, but we'd also have a very hard time convincing anyone to support TNR or any kind of humane, non-lethal efforts to control the population of community cats, because they would think of cats as pests, not companion animals or appealing wild animals.
You may think you're bolstering the need for TNR, but you're making it more difficult to get support for TNR.
The real numbers are somewhere between 50 and 1000 descendants from two unaltered cats. (Source)