Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Free range cats an issue for communities
Released by Tricia Leslie, SPCA Van/Handout photos
results of a recent survey shows that B.C. is on the right track when it
comes to dealing with outdoor-living cats. The U.S. national survey,
commissioned by the Best Friends Animal Society late last year, reveals
overwhelming support for the trap-neuter-return (TNR) method of managing
populations of un-owned, free-roaming “community” cats.
A long-time issue in British Columbia, cat overpopulation
is a crisis that the BC SPCA has been working to address, along with other
rescue groups and humane organizations, veterinarians, cat coalitions,
volunteers and animal lovers.
While the study is American, BC SPCA policy and outreach officer Amy Morris
suggests Canadian attitudes toward free-roaming cats tend to mirror those in
the United States.
“Though we have lower population numbers than in the U.S., we still see
large numbers of free-roaming cats in colonies,” Morris says. “Many cat
lovers provide food, water and shelter for the cruelly abandoned felines,
but they lack the financial resources to pay for spay and neuter surgeries.”
survey asked respondents to indicate their preference from among three
options for managing community cats, and 68 per cent chose “sterilize and
vaccinate healthy stray cats and return them to where they were captured (TNR)”,
compared to only 24 per cent who chose “impoundment be shelter staff
followed by lethal injection for any cats not adopted” and the eight per
cent who chose “do nothing.”
The second question asked which one of six factors most
influenced survey participants’ response to the first question, with36 per
cent choosing the health/welfare of the cats, followed by public health (32
per cent), cost (16 per cent), environment/conservation (10 per cent),
property rights (four per cent) and ‘other’ (one per cent).
Tens of thousands of cats and kittens live outdoors in B.C., suffering from
illness, injuries, starvation, frostbite and predator attacks. Using the TNR
method is one of the ways the BC SPCA is working to help tackle the cat
overpopulation crisis as a priority in its 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, where
donor funds designated to sterilizing cats are earmarked toward helping
these outdoor, free-roaming cats whose offspring suffer the most.
The BC SPCA dedicates roughly $2 million each year on
spay/neuter programs in communities throughout B.C. and ensures that every
dog, cat and rabbit adopted from an SPCA shelter is sterilized prior to
“In 2014, $80,000 was allocated to assist outdoor cats, with another $80,000
being distributed in 2015,” Morris notes. “The BC SPCA ensure projects are
targeted and successful: 100 per cent of the cats in a colony are
sterilized, and colony caretakers provide ongoing monitoring in case any
additional cats are illegally abandoned. They ensure any new arrivals also
receive spay or neuter surgeries.”
Hedley, Nanoose Bay, Prince George and Gold River are among the many B.C.
communities working with the BC SPCA to use the TNR method to help control
the growth of the outdoor cat population. All are small communities with
limited resources but with dedicated municipal governments, volunteers,
veterinarians and animal lovers who work together towards a common goal of a
future without any homeless cats.
“It’s a community problem, and some communities in the province are really
leading by example,” Morris says. “They have shown that by working together,
British Columbians are capable of solving the problem of cat
Visit www.spayneuter.ca for
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