(Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian via AP file)

‘I can’t take them all with me’: Feral cats on N.L. island face uncertain future as humans relocate

Animal welfare groups involved in campaign to domesticate, find homes for some of the animals

Animal lovers in Newfoundland and Labrador are seeking help for dozens of feral cats facing an uncertain future as the humans in the small town where they prowl prepare to relocate.

Residents of Little Bay Islands have voted to resettle the community, and they have until the end of the year to move before electricity, maintenance and other government services are withdrawn.

Little Bay Islands, off Newfoundland’s northern coast, is one of many rural communities in the province faced with a dwindling population and difficult choices — the 2016 census recorded just 71 people living in the town.

As residents grapple with the prospect of leaving their homes behind, the question of what will happen to the feral felines remains.

Carol Hull, in the midst of planning her own move, said that as residents have moved away over the years, some have left their cats. Many of the animals had not been neutered, and Hull said this has produced a lasting population of “semi-feral” cats. She estimates there are between 35 and 40 living in the community.

Hull has been caring for some of the cats, feeding those that come by her property. She’s also rescued some kittens and tried to facilitate adoptions. But some of the cats are too wild to be adopted, she said, and time is running out before the human caretakers the cats have come to rely on are forced to leave.

“I can’t take them all with me,” Hull said by phone.

READ MORE: Nearly 60 feral cats caught in one B.C. neighbourhood

Animal welfare groups in other parts of Newfoundland have become involved in the campaign to domesticate and find homes for some of the animals. The Exploits Valley SPCA has started a social media campaign showcasing the 14 cats rescued from the community so far.

In a Facebook post earlier this month, the group highlighted the feral cat problem that isn’t unique to the small town, saying that rescue organizations across the province are “overwhelmed” and unable to make space for all the cats in need.

“There’s a cat problem in Newfoundland and Labrador (and) the entire world,” the Oct. 6 post read. “Little Bay Islands is no exception, but it poses a problem since it will soon be abandoned.” The group said in its post that some of the cats may starve if the population is left to continue growing on the island.

In following days, the SPCA posted photos of some of the 14 Little Bay Islands cats, most of them kittens, that have since been adopted. But the rest of the free-roaming felines have less certain futures.

Hull said she thinks the government relocation policy should involve some support for abandoned animals. But she worries that government involvement could mean the cats are just put down.

READ MORE: Money getting tight for Fraser Valley volunteer feral cat rescuers

Instead, she’s hoping for a bump in funding for animal welfare groups willing to take them in. Hull said as long as volunteers are willing to help her round up the cats, she’ll return as many times as it takes to secure their future.

“The main thing to us is (to avoid) the destruction of healthy animals,” she said.

“I’m willing to leave my new home, wherever, and come out here every day of the week as long as there’s a rescue group on that boat with me.”

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Top cop calls video of Kelowna Mountie striking suspect ‘concerning’

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

City of Kelowna receives $100K provincial grant to support forestry workers

When the Kelowna Tolko mill shut down in November, 233 full-time employees were put out of work

$173K to support Okanagan seniors amid pandemic

United Way announces more funding for frontline programs

Okanagan home sales increase over last month, still below 2019 numbers: OMREB

Sales, listings see increase over May’s numbers but dwindle in comparison to 2019

Defence claims Surrey man was mentally unwell at time of West Kelowna murder

Tejwant Danjou’s jealousy ‘tormented him’, according to his defence lawyer

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Princeton RCMP sergeant kills cougar threatening residential neighborhood

An RCMP officer shot and killed a cougar, close to a residential… Continue reading

Pilot project approved: Penticton to allow alcohol in outdoor spaces

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project, before eventually passing it 4-2

Drugs, machete found in truck with stolen plate driven by Salmon Arm man

Chase RCMP arrest driver and have vehicle towed

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

HERGOTT: Can you get money back if COVID-19 disrupts plans?

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Most Read