Finding space for the cats and kittens that come through its doors is always a challenge for the SPCA, but the problem seems to be getting worse.
Jodi Dunlop, manager of the Abbotsford shelter, said the numbers have not been dropping, and adoptions are not keeping up with the demand.
“A lot of people think cats are disposable,” she said.
As an example, she referred to a particular day over a week ago when 20 cats were dropped off at the Abbotsford shelter. Two adult female cats, each with a litter of six, had been left behind at a home when the owners moved, and six cats from other circumstances were dropped off throughout that day.
In another situation, a “pet hoarder” abandoned 35 cats and kittens in her home, and they were rescued by the SPCA over a month ago.
The Abbotsford shelter has room for about 30 cats, and the rest are fostered out to volunteers or sent to other shelters in the Lower Mainland.
Some local pet stores also offer space for SPCA adoption services.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, the SPCA does not euthanize pets, except those that are gravely ill or highly aggressive, making adoption a crucial part of the solution.
Dunlop said the biggest issue with the influx of cats is that many people are still neglecting to spay and neuter them, despite ongoing public awareness messages to do so.
The owners then have difficulty getting rid of kittens, and they end up turning them over to the SPCA, or worse, abandon them on rural properties.
Most of the cats – about 70 per cent – are brought to the SPCA because they are strays, either intentionally abandoned or missing from their home. Some have been injured.
Because many of them do not have identification, such as an ear tattoo or a microchip, the SPCA is unable to track down their owners.
Dunlop said many people do not come looking for their missing cats at the SPCA, believing, for example, that they will return home in a few days or that they were killed by an animal or a car.
The SPCA only has to hold a pet for four days before it can be placed for adoption.
Dunlop said the remaining 30 per cent of cats are “owner surrendered” – people who no longer want or are capable of caring for their pet.
She said the SPCA currently has a list, dating back to July, of people in this situation who are waiting for the shelter to have space to take their cat.
So far this year, the Abbotsford shelter has had about 640 cats and kittens come through its doors.
Dunlop encourages anyone who is missing a cat to visit the Abbotsford shelter at 34312 Industrial Way or go online (where all the cats’ photos are posted) at http://www.spca.bc.ca/branches/Abbotsford/
Information about adoptions is also posted on the website.