The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) released a multi-stakeholder report last month on the crisis of cat overpopulation in Canada.
The Stratford-Perth Humane Society was involved in the research of the report because of the well documented cat overpopulation crisis in Stratford and Perth County.
The report finds the animal sheltering system is at, or dangerously over, capacity to care for the cats that arrive at their doors.
Cats are twice as likely as dogs to end up abandoned at a shelter or rescue. Some of these cats are surrendered pets, others are found as strays roaming the streets.
The data reveals cats entering the sheltering system have less than a one per cent chance of being reunited with their families compared with dogs, which have a 30 per cent chance.
The research projects more than 600,000 homeless cats in Canadian shelters did not find new homes in 2011 – these were left either waiting for a new home or facing euthanasia.
“We undertook this research to better understand the negative consequences of cat overpopulation including homelessness, overburdened shelters and rescues, and euthanasia for space and illness,” says CFHS CEO Barbara Cartwright.
“We need to reduce the number of unwanted cats, to get more lost cats back home and to increase the number of homes willing to adopt.”
The report compiles the data from 478 stakeholders across the country including humane societies, SPCAs, municipalities, veterinarians, rescues, trap-neuter-return groups and spay/neuter organizations.
Currently, Canadians are more likely to acquire a “free” cat from a friend, relative, as a give-away, from their own pet’s offspring or take in a stray than they are to adopt from a humane society, SPCA or a rescue group. The report found that on average 44 per cent of cats brought into Canadian shelters are returned to their owners or find new homes.
Although legislation is a commonly proposed solution to a problem, stakeholders who responded to the survey identified that a lack of resources can make the enforcement of municipal bylaws a challenge.
To end cat overpopulation the CFHS has identified many things that need to happen including more accessible and affordable spay/neuter surgeries, an increase in adoption rates, greater education about the plight of cats, adequate support for strategies that require enforcement (such as by-laws) and that overall, owners must take more responsibilities for their pets.
The City of Stratford, in partnership with the Feline Friends Network, adopted a trap-neuter-return program in late 2011 in an attempt to control its feral cat population.