Spaying, neutering and controlling feral cat populations shows compassion

On a weekend in early August, two women in Assiniboia held a garage sale in town to raise money to spay, neuter and regulate the town’s feral cats.

With so many overriding issues in the world, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the garage sale in Assiniboia represented a blip of kindness during a summer turned on its head.

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Controlling Assiniboia’s untamed cat residents is beneficial for felines and humans alike – this logic goes for the rest of Canada, as feral cats have become a drawback across the country and throughout the world.  

The cat, or the Felis silvestris lybica, originated in the Fertile Crescent in the Near East during the Neolithic period. 

Cats served as human companions since around 7500 BC, when these animals were believed to have been first domesticated in Egypt.

Cats are feisty and resourceful with high reproduction rates.

Domesticated female cats have kittens from the spring to the late autumn with litter sizes extending from two to five babies.

Kittens often fail to find good homes and end up roaming the streets, joining the feral crowds. Feral cats have contributed to the extinction of birds, mammals and reptiles. In a paper published in January 29, 2013 in Nature Communications, the authors (Scott R. Loss, Tom Will and Peter P. Marra) said between 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds lost their lives to cats each year in the United States.

Although cats were efficient in killing pests such as rats and mice, they were also hunting rabbits, shrews and voles.

The authors further suggested 258-822 million reptiles and 95-299 million amphibians were cat-derived fatalities based on data collected from Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  

Humane Canada released a five-year indepth study titled Cats in Canada 2017: A Five Year Review of Cat Overpopulation. 

According to Humane Canada, there weren’t too many areas in the country where an overpopulation of wild dogs existed. Humane Canada even said there was a shortage of dogs for adoption. However, cat overpopulation is posing a challenge throughout Canada.

In Humane Canada’s words “The impacts of this overpopulation are serious and include cats languishing in shelters long term, or worse, succumbing to stress-related illnesses. For cats who remain outdoors, risk of disease transmission, as well as illness, injury and death are daily realities.”

Cats have an image problem – they are often perceived as indifferent animals with less communicative abilities than dogs. Also, cats are sometimes adopted by mismatched owners who believed felines were easier to care for than dogs or other choices.

But cats expect the same amount of devotion as other pets – whether a St. Bernard or a Caiman crocodile.

Cats need regular meals, water, comfortable beds, grooming, vaccinations, medications for worming, treatments for fleas and other necessities.            

Cats are often shown the door whenever their feckless owners discovered their cute kittens changed into creatures with appetites and medical needs.

Humane Canada said there’s more cats in Canadian homes than dogs, but cats don’t receive the same amount of attention and respect as their canine colleagues – partially explaining the serious amounts of ferals wandering alleys and giving throaty serenades at midnight in the backyards of the nation’s communities.

Humane Canada discovered there were 10.2 million owned cats in Canada, but the number of homeless cats in comparison to dogs doubled in 2012.

Canadian animal shelters are often at overcapacity with unwanted cats.    

There’s some helpful news, with shelters, humane societies and SPCAs in Canada improving aspects of the country’s feral catastrophe since 2011, as the number of euthanized cats decreased from an estimated 59,939 in 2011 to a drop of 20,753 in 2016.  

For more info and photos on Darlene Skalicky and Shelly Willer's sale, see https://www.assiniboiatimes.ca/photos/garage-sale-for-a-special-cause-1.24184630.