In the past few months, Katie’s Place has received an unusually high number of calls about cat colonies.
All of the cats need to be trapped, neutered and released.
Many of them are feral – literally wild animals.
The number of feral cat colonies in our city is shocking, and of course there are many we don’t yet know about. They are the result of irresponsible pet owners who either allow their pets to breed indiscriminately, or who abandon their unfixed animals.
Two homeless, unfixed cats can form a colony in no time, and the first generation of kittens can turn feral unless they are caught and socialized within the first couple of months.
Too many people look the other way when they see a homeless cat. It’s not their problem, they don’t have time, they can’t be bothered.
Soon that homeless cat meets another abandoned, unfixed feline and the rest is history.
This is when people usually call for help, and at that point a situation that could have been easily managed has become a huge undertaking.
Special teams of volunteers trap these cats. Traps need to be set and checked regularly to ensure the animals don’t spend too much time in them. Then the cats need to be vetted, housed temporarily while they recover from their surgeries, then placed at a permanent location.
Feral cats are not easy to care for. They are afraid, they are aggressive, they lash out, and they do everything in their power to escape. Sometimes they are so frantic to get away from us, they hurt themselves, and sometimes they hurt us.
Almost every colony has twilight cats, those between being a wild animal and a house pet. They are shy and wary of people. They don’t trust us, but they are also interested in us. Some of them turn into lap cats, and some remain in limbo for their entire lives. They are too tame to release back into the colony after being fixed, and they are not tame enough to fit into most homes.
Twilight cats are very hard to place. They are usually young and cute, but most people want a companion that will interact with them. These delicate felines are too skittish and afraid to fit into the average household. They need quiet, peaceful homes with cat savvy people who know how to deal with twilight cats.
Unfortunately, most of the cats at Katie’s Place need quiet, peaceful homes for various reasons, and there are only so many quiet, peaceful homes out there.
If you see a cat that seems to be homeless, please take the time to alert a rescue. One homeless cat is much easier to handle then 20 wild animals.
Magdalena Romanow is a volunteer at Katie’s Place, an animal shelter in Maple Ridge.