The report, commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, says that by refusing to spay and neuter their cats, owners are passing on the costs of unwanted litters to the wider community.
“Cats are a favoured animal in Canada,” societies CEO Barbara Cartwright said.
“Cat ownership is going up in Canada ... and dog ownership is going down. It’s just a matter of us evolving our ownership and perception of cats along the same lines as we’ve done with dogs.”
There were 600,000 homeless cats in Canadian shelters in 2011, and only 44 per cent of cats brought into shelters are adopted out, said the report. Cats are less likely than dogs to be reunited with their original owners and they take longer to be adopted.
Cat owners are encouraged to outfit their cats with collars and identification so lost pets can be returned home.
“We don’t care for cats like we do for dogs, so how do we change that?” Cartwright asked.
Joan Douglas of Cats Cradle Rescue in Victoria said cats are rescued from all over the capital region on a regular basis.
The non-profit, volunteer-run charity specializes on rehabilitating and finding homes for cats and dogs considered “unadoptable.”
Douglas was recently on a farm to pick up feral cats in need of spaying and neutering. She picked up a bunch of kittens as well, which will be sold to help pay veterinary bills.
“If you can get the kittens when they’re three, four, five or six weeks old, they make beautiful little pets,” Douglas said.
She said she is amazed at the number of cats abandoned by relatives when the owner dies.
“We just took three cats off Pender Island because a woman died and her brother didn’t want them. He just booted them out of the house and they’d never been outside cats,” Douglas said.
Some people saddled with litters of kittens sell them on the Internet. Buyers often aren’t aware that pet care involves some such expenses as spaying or neutering, which cost upwards of $200.
The cost often prompts owners to dump cats, exposing domesticated animals to the tough prospect of having to fend for themselves.
Sterilization is identified as a successful solution to cat overpopulation, the report says.
“In fact, 70 per cent of respondents agreed that accessible spay/neuter surgeries [including subsidized and high volume] was the most important solution to this crisis.”
Addressing the overpopulation of cats would involve accessible spay/neuter surgeries, increased adoption strategies, humane education, adequately funded enforcement and responsible pet ownership, the report says.
The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is a national organization representing humane societies and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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