Pirate was born in a cat colony in Fernie. With only one eye

Pirate was born in a cat colony in Fernie. With only one eye

SPCA spay/neuter program helps feral cats

Cat colonies are a major issue in some communities, but an SPCA program helps local volunteers help the cats.

The BC SPCA is looking for local groups to apply for funding from its Community Animal Spay/Neuter Grant Program, to help them reduce colonies of wild cats throughout the province. The program is designed to support non-profit community organizations, veterinarians, First Nations, and local governments to spay and neuter feral animals.

Although the program also extends to rabbits and dogs, the main focus is on feral cats, which can exist in colonies ranging in size from four or five cats to up to 50. “It costs $150 to $250 per procedure,” says Marieke van der Velden, BC SPCA outreach coordinator. “The grant allows for a discount on the procedure, which also includes permanent ID and pain management medications.”

Feral cat colonies are, she says, a significant problem in many communities. “In some areas it’s a very significant issue. Targeted spaying and neutering is very effective in managing that. And for the feral cats themselves it’s a huge benefit in terms of their health. There’s less spraying and fights, and results in a gradual decrease in the population.”

She says that feral cat colonies can be anywhere, although they are more common in rural areas than in urban centres. “Wherever there is a food source, cats will collect.” She notes that while some people feed feral cats, it’s a good idea to contact a group that can help them. And with the cold weather here, she says people can help the cats by creating warm hiding spaces for them to shelter in.

The spay/neuter grant program is funded by legacy donations made by compassionate people who want to see an end to the suffering of homeless pets. The donations allow the BC SPCA to work with active community members and groups to address cat overpopulation. The program also helps educate the public about pet overpopulation and animal abandonment.

Applications for the program are being taken until December 31. To learn more, or apply for a grant, visit www.spca.bc.ca/spayneutergrant.