The East Kootenay branch of the B.C. SPCA is getting some help to address a cat overpopulation in Cranbrook thanks to an $84,000 grant from PetSmart Charities.
The grant will go toward spaying and neutering 950 cats in Cranbrook and surrounding areas this year, both owned cats as well as free-roaming felines in four colonies.
“This grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada is fantastic news for Cranbrook. We have a constant intake of cats into our shelter,” says BC SPCA East Kootenay Branch manager Brenna Baker. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t have a waiting list of cats to get into the shelter, looking for loving, forever homes.”
A major focus of the BC SPCA’s five-year Strategic Plan is addressing B.C.’s massive cat overpopulation problem, as tens of thousands of outdoor cats are left to fend for themselves outside, suffering from illness, injury, starvation, predator attacks and more.
Cranbrook has a large population of outdoor-living cats, and the grant will go toward sterilizing cats that would otherwise be left to reproduce, as well as assisting families and individuals who are unable to spay or neuter their pet due to financial constraints.
“We have one of the largest cat populations in the province, so that includes feral and free-roaming cats and they just keep reproducing because they don’t get spayed and neutered,” said Baker.
“…One female cat and her offspring can produce more than 200 kittens within one year. The grant allows us to move forward and make a big difference in the region.”
Last year, 754 animals entered the care of the BC SPCA in Cranbrook. Of those, 523 were cats or kittens, and 256 of those kittens were from unwanted litters.
The East Kootenay branch can set up appointments for spaying and neutering cats for the public. The cost is usually $200, but if it’s a financial hardship, the EK B.C. SPCA will still do it but request a $40 donation.
In addition to the grant, the East Kootenay branch is also wrapping up some renovations to the building just outside of Cranbrook.
“What we did is we redid some of our cat rooms, just to make it more healthier environment, so we installed proper ventilation and we’ve also put in proper stainless steel cages instead of the old wooden ones and they’re a bigger size so it’s better welfare for the animals,” said Baker.
New flooring, built new walls, bigger rooms, and some proper animal cleaning areas were also installed. While that project still has a little bit of work to go, Baker is also eying the next step for animal care in the building.
Our next goal will be to redo the dog kennel area,” she said. “Right now it’s not up to standards for proper welfare for dogs, so we would like to put in plexiglass kennels, which is a huge expense and redo the insulation and walls within there as well, but we’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag of close to $100,000, so it’s going to be a big challenge to raise those funds, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to be able to do it.”
Funding for the cat rooms came in the form of $24,000 from the Community Initiative funds of the Columbia Basin Trust and RDEK, the City of Cranbrook and the City of Kimberley. The provincial office of the B.C. SPCA also kicked in $16,000 and there were many donations from local private citizens and businesses.
“It takes the whole community to tackle such a large issue, and we couldn’t do it alone,” Baker said, adding that in addition to PetSmart Charities of Canada, the BC SPCA is grateful to Steeples Veterinary Clinic, Tanglefoot Vet, Cranbrook Vet, Kootenay Vet, EK Cares, B-104 & The Drive, and the City of Cranbrook.