There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 feral cats in Langley, according to Tiny Kittens founder Shelly Roche, which she calls an increasingly invisible problem.
“It’s just sad that people aren’t really aware that all of this is happening around them and it makes it hard to generate resources and do fundraising,” said the operator of the Fort Langley non-profit.
She believes that much of the problem can be attributed to the vast amount of rural property in Langley, where in some cases cats are used for rodent control.
“We also have a lot of cats that are dumped on rural properties,” she added.
“We’ll get a call about a property that has maybe five or 10 cats, and when we get out there we’ll often end up staying and neutering about 10 times that number,” Roche said. “It’s a pretty invisible problem and that means people don’t realize how much suffering is going on right under their noses in their neighbourhoods.”
About 25 per cent of kittens born in the wild actually survive, according to the non-profit.
“The other 75 [per cent] die from things like starvation and disease, and predators and sometimes cruelty, but again we don’t see that in our day-to-day lives so it’s pretty hard to feel compassion for something you can’t see,” Roche noted.
“When we do get to know these animals we see what they’re capable of and how much love they have to give. The moms help each other give birth, they help raise each others kittens, they’re really remarkable little survivors.”
The largest feral colony Tiny Kittens has dealt with is in Aldergrove where they cataloged nearly 400 cats on a single property.
“We have so much space [in Langley] that it’s really easy for them to hide,” Roche said.
Since its inception Roche estimates the organization has spayed and neutered about 1,000 cats in the community, an average about 200 cats each year.
“I think we definitely lack resources; not enough funding, not enough volunteers, not enough shelter space, not enough homes to adopt cats that come from these situations,” she said.
Ideally the organization said it would be spaying and neutering far more cats, but because they provide intense care for many who require special needs, more time and resources are needed to nurse them back to health.
“I think raising awareness that there is a problem is also the other big piece of the puzzle,” Roche noted.
Grandpa Mason showed the world that even if you're old, sick, broken, misunderstood or different… you matter. pic.twitter.com/lR3JlAp0ri
— TinyKittens HQ (@tinykittensHQ) October 15, 2019
To get to know the animals better and follow their journey Tiny Kittens provides a 24-hour live stream of the rescues.
“People really get to see their individual personalities, they get to kind of fall in love with them and I think that helps to generate some compassion and some understanding of what’s actually happening out there even though you don’t see everyday,” Roche said.
For more information or to donate visit tinykittens.com.