With an intake of 700 cats in 2017 — a 20 per cent jump since the previous year — Central Alberta Humane Society is feeling “overburdened.”
Tara Hellewell, Central Alberta Humane Society executive director, said the shelter has run 10 per cent over capacity throughout 2017.
Cat over population is an issue in Canada according to a recent report by Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. The country wide problem is also a local one, said Hellewell, who is also one of the directors at CFHS.
The report states cats and dogs are Canada’s most popular pets and while cats are found in more Canadian households than dogs, they do not receive the same care and consideration in society as their canine counterparts.
Hellewell couldn’t agree more.
“Is it acceptable for our dogs to roam freely? No. Cats are domesticated animals that need the same care and attention as dogs,” she said, adding that cats shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely.
As of last week, the shelter was housing 150 cats in comparison to 30 dogs, she said.
At one point in the summer, there was a waiting list of 400 cats at the shelter – a number that’s doubled since 2016.
Fifteen of the 20 per cent intake increase in 2017 was among the kitten population, she said.
As to what the underlying problem is, Hellewell blames the economy, Red Deer’s transient population and varying municipality bylaws.
“Red Deer doesn’t have licensing (bylaw) for cats right now so we can’t actually tell you how many cats are living in Red Deer,” she said, adding that Sylvan Lake does.
The number of owned cats in Canada is about 9.3 million, according to the CFHS report.
The City of Red Deer does have a bylaw in place that doesn’t allow pet owners to let their cats roam around on the streets, Hellewell said.
“But you still have cats roaming freely outside that aren’t fixed,” she said.
Owners not being able to afford to spay or neuter their cats is another issue, she said.
Hellewell said many pets are not being cared for and the responsibility falls on humane societies who are in need of funding.
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