Cat at SPCA shelter looking for a home. - Image Credit: Kelowna SPCA

Cat at SPCA shelter looking for a home. - Image Credit: Kelowna SPCA

Reducing outdoor cat suffering

SPCA legacy funding supports cat spay/neuter initiative across Okanagan.

Many outdoor-living cats across the Okanagan Valley will benefit from the generosity of animal lovers and supporters designating legacy funding to combat feline overpopulation.

For the fifth consecutive year, the BC SPCA has made legacy grant funding available for its cat spay and neuter initiative.

“Preventing unwanted litters through spaying and neutering is the most effective and humane approach to solving the problem and we are seeing communities across B.C. coming together to help these cats,” said Marieke van der Velden, BC SPCA outreach coordinator.

Among the grant recipients in this region are:

* South Okanagan Similkameen Branch of SPCA receiving just over $3,100 to fix 35 cats

* Kelowna branch of SPCA receiving just over $6,600 to fix 80 cats

* Okanagan Human Society receiving $6,200 to fix 75 cats

* Westbank First Nation receiving just under $5,000 to fix 60 cats

Also receiving financial assistance for cat overpopulation control is the Salmon Arm SPCA branch and Pawprints Animal Rescue Society in Chase.

Cat overpopulation continues to be a big problem across the Okanagan due to the numbers of cats involved, says the SPCA.

Kittens can get pregnant as early as five months old, and a female cat, and her offspring, can produce up to 400 cats within seven years.

“Colonies of feral cats form where there is a food source available and the problem often grows with abandoned or dumped cats,” said van der Velden.

“Free-roaming cats suffer from starvation, illness, injury, freezing temperatures and predator attacks. Kittens have a high mortality life, an estimated 75 per cent will die before they reach six months of age.

“So there are high numbers of outdoor cats and kittens that are suffering unnecessarily and the problem is preventable.”

The legacy grants are used to fund the Trap-Neuter-Return initiative launched by the SPCA across the province.

“What we have seen is where entire colonies get addressed, it has a significant impact on halting the growth of the population and slowly, humanely decreasing it,” added van der Velden.

“We require a minimum of 85 per cent (of a cat colony) to be spayed or neutered in order to see a slowly declining population.”

In areas where the program has been implemented, the SPCA has seen a decrease in kitten intake at shelters, a strong indicator of success.

“There are entire communities who have gotten their outdoor cat population under control through high volume and targeted TNR projects,” said van der Velden.

“An additional impact is we see these projects raise the awareness and education about community cats and TNR.”