After local SPCA branches took in more than 800 homeless, abandoned or unwanted kittens in 2015, the provincial agency is launching a spay and neuter campaign to curb what it calls a cat overpopulation crisis.
The North Peace SPCA branch took in more than 450 homeless, abandoned and unwanted kittens in 2015, while the South Peace branch took in 380.
Although those numbers aren’t totally out of line with other shelters in B.C. (Quesnel took in 332, and Vancouver 488), outreach co-ordinator Megan Munroe says the problem is larger than it appears.
“Our shelters … have a limit or capacity of what we can take in, so it’s not always reflective of the actual number of cats that are unwanted and homeless in a community,” said Munroe.
She added the numbers don’t account for the cats that are re-adopted outside of SPCA programs, either through rescue groups or online.
“Typically, what we find is with unspayed cats having litters, the first litter, the cat owner is able to find homes throughout the community for those cats, but then the next litter, they come into our shelters,” Munroe said.
The BC SPCA is channeling grant funding to the South Peace branch offer free spays and neuters as part of its latest promotional campaign, Fix Your Cat Right Away.
A kitten just four or five months old can have a litter of her own, and with that in mind the SPCA is encouraging cat owners to spay or neuter their animals before six months—“that way you can ensure that you don’t have any accidental litters,” Munroe said.
Fixed cats are not only healthier, with a significantly reduced chance of developing common reproductive cancers, but are better behaved, according to the SPCA, with tendencies such as spraying, roaming, fighting and howling often subsiding after the procedure.
The goal is to expand the free spay and neuter offer to Fort St. John.
“That would be the next logical step for us,” Munroe said.
The SPCA launched the campaign in the Peace Region to ensure finances aren't a barrier to spay and neuter.
“We selected the Peace Region to launch this campaign primarily because you are so far north, and wanting to make sure that the resources make it up there, because with being isolated and having fewer vets, maybe less resources as well, that only serves to contribute to the problem,” said Munroe.
Cat overpopulation is not unique to the Peace, however. The issue has been on the provincial SPCA’s to-do list since 2014.
“(Dogs) have much better outcomes in terms of their length of stays in our shelters, but cats really have been on the radar for years, and it wasn’t until this that we said we need to have this outlined, and really make a concerted effort towards solving the problem,” Munroe said.
The Dawson Creek Veterinary Clinic and the South Peace Animal Hospital have partnered with the South Peace SPCA for the free spay and neuter initiative. Residents will have to provide proof they live in Dawson Creek to be issued a voucher.
For more information, contact the branch at 250-782-2444.
Cat bylaw in Dawson Creek helping, SPCA says
To deal with cat overpopulation, the City of Dawson Creek and South Peace SPCA developed a cat registration bylaw that passed in March 2015.
The bylaw requires cat owners to register their animals—similar to existing dog licensing laws.
SPCA officials argued the bylaw would help curb feral cat populations. It uses a fee structure to encourage spay and neuter of pets, with owners of "intact" cats paying more.
The City of Fort St. John does not have a cat bylaw.