The large population of homeless domestic cats has become a problem for wildlife, says the executive director of Medicine River Wildlife Centre.
“It’s been a growing issue, but over the past two years — it’s exploded,” said Carol Kelly on Monday.
“Society has to take a different look at cats because they are an issue. They are decimating wildlife.”
Cats are estimated to be killing nine million songbirds daily across North America. They are also depleting the mice population which is a food source for wildlife, she said.
The centre gets calls from people living in rural areas and communities on a regular basis because owners continue to dump unwanted cats. And the public has nowhere to take cats because shelters are full or their area doesn’t have a contract with animal control, she said.
More and more cats have been found roaming at the wildlife centre.
Although it’s not a rescue centre for domestic animals, the wildlife centre currently has 20 kittens and two adult cats on site that need homes.
A few weeks ago, the centre took in 14 kittens after a rural resident was over-run in the spring.
“All of a sudden there were kittens coming out of every corner of his property.”
In 2009, the centre took in a total of 41 cats. So far this year they have already taken in just as many.
Kelly said if the centre doesn’t accept the cats brought to them, they’ll likely be dumped somewhere else.
“We don’t to turn them away feeling that will just add to the problem. We got into it because it’s an environmental issue.”
It’s also a health issue for the public and for the cats who are rarely healthy, breed at a tremendous rate and live short lives, she said.
Thirty years ago people let their dogs run loose until there was a change in attitude and laws regarding dogs, she said.
“We have to start thinking the same way with cats. People are not aware of the huge, huge issue.”
The centre is working closely with the SPCA, Olds College, Whisker Cat Rescue, Alberta Animal Control, and others who are involved with cats.
For information on adopting a cat from Medicine River Wildlife Centre call 403-728-3467.