An animal rescue group that’s swamped with older cats has stopped taking in any more felines.
ARTS Senior Animal Rescue program had been focusing on rescuing older cats and dogs in Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary.
The group has decided to shut its doors to cats, since its foster homes for felines are completely full, with a waiting list of more than a year and a half.
It’s a sad fact that cats are harder to adopt than dogs, said Blair Douglas, the group’s Calgary co-ordinator.
“They are perceived as being less warm,” he explained — although Douglas feels cats come with different personalities, just like dogs — from affectionate to more timid or aloof.
Surprisingly, many people also have a superstition about back cats: “Witchcraft hasn’t existed for hundreds of years,” but the black cat stigma persists, he said.
Douglas knows that animal rescue groups across the province are having an issue with too many cat surrenders.
In Red Deer, the Central Alberta Humane Society is telling callers that 200 cats are already in its care and 150 more are on a waiting list to get into the shelter.
Although the society’s executive director was unavailable to comment Thursday, a receptionist said this has been the situation for some time.
Since ARTS (the Animal Rescue Transfer Society) is no longer taking in senior cats, fewer options exist for people who want to give up their older pets — which are harder to adopt than younger ones, said Douglas.
Douglas feels pet owners owe it to their older animals to try to work out whatever problems they are having, rather than giving up on them.
A common issue for some older cats is they will quit using their litter box. If the vet gives the cat a clean bill of health, it might be due to forgetfulness, so the answer could be as simple as setting up a second litter box in the house, said Douglas.
Having adopted a street cat himself, he knows some of his pet’s ingrained behaviours were developed because of its early environment. For example, he said his pet Sage doesn’t know how to get along with other animals, so it must be the only pet in the house.
While some cats and dogs are surrendered for good reasons, including the death of their owners, he hopes more people will understand that being a pet owner is a long-term commitment for the life of the animal.
Otherwise, he believes population control is the main answer to Alberta’s proliferation of unwanted cats. Douglas urges people to have their pets spayed or neutered.