With a growing feline population in the region, the Kitsumkalum Band has partnered with the Northern Animal Rescue Agency (NARA) to spay and neuter cats in their area this month after receiving an $8,000 grant from the province.
NARA, who helped them apply, has also agreed to match their grant bringing the total to $16,000 to cover the costs. An estimated 42 feral cats were surveyed to be in the area, which community volunteers will attempt to capture using specialized cat traps offered by NARA. So far, five cats have been caught.
“It’s something that the community’s been wanting for a while, we just didn’t know how to do it,” says Heather Bohn, communications coordinator for the Kitsumkalum Band. “This is the first time as partners together for something like this… we filled out the application and it was maybe two weeks later, we received the funding.”
A well-known mobile veterinarian in the Northwest, Kim Hunter, will be working with NARA to operate on the stray animals for a few days. As part of the grant, owners can also bring their cats to be fixed at no cost.
“We probably have at least eight to 10 people who will be participating in helping and getting their cats fixed,” says Bohn. ‘Sometimes you can’t afford to get your animals fixed… [but] that’s why it’s important for this time of the year — [kitten] season is coming.”
The majority of the fund will be used for surgeries, and any remaining money will be set aside for cat food and additional medical fees including vaccinations and flea treatment. Any feral cats captured after the set surgery dates will be operated on at local animal hospitals at a discounted price.
Bohn adds some of the cats caught will be rehomed and a few people have expressed interest in letting them live in their barns to catch rodents.
Pip Crosby, the chairperson of NARA, says springtime is when most litters are born and it only takes six months for those kittens to become fertile, which can rapidly become a problem for various reasons.
“The more cats in a small area, the less healthy they’re going to be and they’ll become more than a nuisance, feeding them is expensive,” says Crosby. “They’re going to get into the garbage. And it’s not the cat’s fault, they’re smart and they get into trouble.”
NARA has worked with other communities in the area on similar partnerships. Crosby says it’s important to come together to tackle the issue before it becomes unmanageable.
Following this project, Bohn says they would like to apply for a similar grant to spay and neuter dogs in their area, as that also requires attention.