A non-profit group is warning that the New Brunswick government needs to do more to address the province’s feral cat population.
Cat Rescue Maritimes (CARMA) operates throughout the region to capture and then spay, neuter, re-home or release feral cats.
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Spokesperson Nancy Vanderhorst says feral cats are already starting to breed due to the mild winter this year.
“This year they are going to have three litters and then those three litters are going to be breeding next year. That’s the reality of it,” she said.
CARMA spays or neuters about 2,000 cats in New Brunswick each year, and Vanderhorst says the province to better confront what is a growing problem.
“We don’t get any government funding,” she said. “Any money that we make, we’ve been out there begging with our penny jars.”
Many municipalities try to control the problem by capturing feral cats and euthanizing them, which Vanderhorst says is cruel.
“Feral or not feral, every life matters. I would not go and get a bird and kill a bird because it’s a feral bird,” she said.
Outgoing New Brunswick SPCA executive director Hilary Howes says feral cats are the top animal control issue in the province.
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“The number of feral cat colonies is expanding everywhere and we are getting more and more calls from municipalities saying that it’s a real problem in their area,” he said.
Howes says pet owners can help control the population by having their cats spayed or neutered, although that can be a financial burden for some people,
“We need some low-cost spay and neuter clinics in this province so that low-income families can still afford to have their animals spay or neutered, and still benefit form having a pet,” he said.
Riverview resident Dan McGaw tries to keep the feral felines in his neighbourhood from starving to death in winter.
“I think the feral cat problem is created by people that abandon cats or let their cats stay un-neutered, and then we have this rash of cats,” he said.
He says the province needs to find a humane way to deal with the ballooning population.
“If there was some way that the province could make it a benefit to the veterinarians tax-wise, or co-pay-wise, then it might work,” he said. “If something could be done, it could save an awful lot of problems for an awful lot of people.”