The East Kootenay SPCA has spent 2016 getting a handle of Cranbrook cat overpopulations

The East Kootenay SPCA has spent 2016 getting a handle of Cranbrook cat overpopulations

SPCA tackles Cranbrook cat population crisis

The SPCA is reporting enormous strides in dealing with Cranbrook's enormous cat overpopulation problem.

  • Jan. 10, 2017 11:00 a.m.

Barry Coulter

The SPCA is reporting enormous strides in dealing with Cranbrook’s enormous cat overpopulation problem.

Over the past year, the East Kootenay SPCA made good use of a Pet Smart Charities grant of $83,957, to address the issue. The grant helped get outdoor cats sterilize and get several of Cranbrook’s famous colonies of feral felines under control. But the real focus was on getting owned cats and kittens in Cranbrook and the surrounding area spayed or neutered, according to BC SPCA East Kootenay Branch manager Brenna Baker.

“We’ve seen significant results and we’re so grateful,” Baker said in an SPCA press release. “The grant has also helped to raise the value of spaying and neutering, while helping us build relationships with community members and partners.”

In 2015, the East Kootenay SPCA branch took in 552 cats and kittens: 214 of which were surrendered by owners, the rest were strays. In 2016, intake of stray kittens at the branch dropped by 40 per cent compared to 2015, and more than 750 cats in the area were spayed and neutered.

“We were able to help pet guardians from all walks of life get their cats and kittens sterilized,” Baker says, recalling how she delivered a spay/neuter voucher to a local senior living on a low income with accessibility challenges. When she arrived, she discovered the cat in question had recently had nine kittens.

“Thanks to the grant, we were able to spay and neuter the momma cat and the kittens, and as the kittens were surrendered into our care, they were all adopted into new homes as soon as they were old enough,” Baker says. “This is just one example of how the grant enabled us to make a difference in the lives of cats and cat guardians.”

Not just in Cranbrook but across British Columbia, thousands upon thousands of outdoor cats are abandoned or left to fend for themselves outside, suffering from illness, injury, starvation, predator attacks. The BC SPCA has developed a five-year strategic plan to deal with the issue.

“Even though we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of unwanted stray kittens in Cranbrook this year, the problem is not yet solved,” said BC SPCA outreach coordinator Marieke van der Velden, who oversees the society’s cat spay/neuter prevention programming for the province.

“We continue to urge all residents to not only have their own cats spayed and neutered, but to also take action to ensure that all stray and feral cats in their community are fixed as well.”

With files from BC SPCA