Stress over strays

A skinny white cat, her teats swollen from nursing new kittens, appeared at Olga Ferrer’s house in Red Deer. In another part of the city, a visibly pregnant calico cat showed up on Justin Kubash and Sarah Myers’s doorstep on a miserably cold spring day.

Olga Ferrer watches for four kittens as their mother feeds in Ferrer’s garage Thursday.

Olga Ferrer watches for four kittens as their mother feeds in Ferrer’s garage Thursday.

A skinny white cat, her teats swollen from nursing new kittens, appeared at Olga Ferrer’s house in Red Deer.

In another part of the city, a visibly pregnant calico cat showed up on Justin Kubash and Sarah Myers’s doorstep on a miserably cold spring day.

For people who have compassion for all animals, turning needy mothers away was not an option.

In both cases, the people who fed and sheltered the wayward felines and their new broods found that they had bitten off more than they had planned to chew.

Ferrer said she had never intended to keep the white cat that was raising wild kittens under the floor of her garage. Nor did Kubash and Myers, whose own cat was not about to tolerate an interloper.

But both families were turned away when they attempted to surrender the strays and their kittens at both the Red Deer & District SPCA and at Riverside Kennels, operated by Alberta Animal Services, which is under contract to enforce the city’s cat and dog bylaws.

Ferrer and Kubash were told that, because they had been caring for the animals for more than two weeks, they had become their legal owners under the provisions of the Alberta Animal Protection Act. The cats were no longer defined as strays.

It boils down to too little space for too many cats, largely because too many people place too little value on cats in general, said Julie McInnis, executive director of the SPCA.

The Red Deer & District SPCA’s primary focus is on sheltering and finding new homes for stray animals, said McInnis.

With space in its newly-expanded facility for 30 dogs and 150 cats, the shelter accepts as many strays as it can, holding the healthy ones for as long as it takes to find them new homes, she said.

Combined with the cats and kittens that are simply abandoned at the front door, that leaves very little room to take in new cats, with the priority given to strays, said McInnis. She has a waiting list, but new cats cannot come in until there is a place to keep them, she said.

“We have just gone through kitten season, so we have a lot of people on our (waiting) list.”

Those people who will be contacted in order, as space comes available, said McInnis.

“That’s were the challenge comes in. We are what’s called a max-adopt facility. We will not euthanize for space, so if you bring me a cat today, I’m not going to kill that cat tomorrow so someone else can bring me another cat tomorrow. That’s contrary to our philosophy.”

The only time animals are put down is if they are aggressive or have health issues that cannot be dealt with at the shelter, said McInnis.

Animal control officer Duane Thomas said that, like the SPCA, he and his staff are frequently contacted by people who don’t want their cats anymore or who have taken in a stray and decided later that they didn’t want it after all.

People who want to bring animals in are required to leave their names, addresses and phone numbers as part of the kennels’ efforts to track down original owners, said Thomas.

Tracking includes looking for tattoos, tags and microchips he said.

Under city bylaws, healthy animals are kept for at least 72 hours before they are put up for adoption, he said.

In some cases, people are simply waiting too long to look for missing pets. People who come in a week later may find that their cat has already found a new home or that it was put down because there was no space left.

People who have tattooed, chipped or tagged their animals also need to remember to keep their contact information up to date so they can be found quickly when their animals turn up at a shelter, said Thomas.

McInnis said her organization is now pushing for a cat licencing requirement in an attempt to more clearly identify animals that have wandered away from their own homes.

The SPCA continues to push for spaying and neutering of all pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals that show up on its doorstep, said McInnis. But too many people are still not getting the message, she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A FedEx worker loads the 255,600 doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine which came from Europe into a freezer trailer to be transported during the COVID-19 pandemic at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada’s incoming vaccine supply from Moderna will… Continue reading

Energy Minister Sonya Savage speaks during an event to mark the start of right-of-way construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, in Acheson, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A committee that is supposed to consult Albertans on coal development in the Rocky Mountains won't be able to ask questions about water or land use. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Brittany Lausen, RDC Students’ Association president. (Advocate file photo).
RDC Students’ Association takes aim at ‘period poverty’ in Red Deer

Vulnerable clients of several non-profits can access free hygiene products

A voter is shown at a Whitehorse polling station during the Yukon election on Monday April 12, 2021. An official count has confirmed a tie in the Yukon election, pushing the process to the next step of a judicial recount. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Kelly
Official count confirms tie in Yukon election, application filed for judicial recount

WHITEHORSE — An official count has confirmed a tie in the Yukon… Continue reading

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard the HMCS Moncton for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton)
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Students in Alberta town ready to return to school after quarantining

ATHABASCA, Alta. — A superintendent of schools in northern Alberta says the… Continue reading

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Britain’s Prince Charles, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits the gardens of Marlborough House, London, Thursday April 15, 2021, to look at the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Prince Philip. (Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via AP)
Princes William, Harry won’t walk side-by-side at funeral

LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry won’t walk side-by-side Saturday as… Continue reading

Tilray products such as capsules, oils, and dried marijuana are displayed at their head office in Nanaimo, B.C., on November 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Vote by Tilray shareholders on Aphria merger deal delayed until April 30

NANAIMO, B.C. — A vote by Tilray Inc. shareholders on the cannabis… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adjusts his mask as Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson answers a reporter's question during an announcement on the government's updated climate change plan in the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Wilkinson urges opposition leaders to stop stalling net-zero carbon emissions bill

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is urging opposition leaders to end… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Opinion: Biden’s words have no meaning

“If they go, we’ll all have to go. That’s the reality of… Continue reading

Shadow pandemic: Domestic violence has risen worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a devastating mark on communities across the… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs expected to toe the party line

I am writing this letter to express my disappointment with my MLA… Continue reading

Most Read