You Can Help Us Tackle Winnipeg’s Cat Overpopulation Crisis

This post was submitted as part of the Pet ‘Net Adoption Event 2008 to heighten awareness about animal shelter adoption.Please visit your local shelter, or Human Society location and ADOPT A PET if you can. Your continued support is essential to enhancing the quality of life for all animals and there are several ways you can help, besides adoption, which includes donations, fostering, volunteering, etc. Here’s HOW YOU CAN HELP support my local Winnipeg Humane Society. Thank-You. // HART

* Reprinted from The WHS Newsletter – Fall 2008

by John Youngman, Chair, Cats Alive!

It’s heart-wrenching. Every year, thousands of unwanted kittens are born in Winnipeg that have no prospect of loving homes. The lucky ones end up at Winnipeg shelters where at least they stand a chance of being adopted. The rest end up perishing on the cold streets of Winnipeg. In 2007, a total of 5,646 cats passed through our shelter. Of those cats, 3,772 – or two thirds – were strays, the vast majority of which came from the inner city: the North End, the West End, North Point Douglas, William Whyte, Weston and Spence. It is no coincidence that these neighbourhoods also have the lowest per capita incomes. The limited financial resources of many residents, combined with a lack of reliable transportation, means a high percentage of cats in these areas are not sterilized, and go on to produce litter after litter of unwanted kittens.

Clearly, the solutions used in the past to reduce the number of unwanted cats warehousing, adoption and euthanasia – are not working. The shelter continues to be inundated with cats and kittens year in and year out. An innovative new approach is necessary which focuses on prevention. Cats Alive! – an exciting new program of The Winnipeg Humane Society – is about just that: prevention. It aims to turn off the faucet of unwanted kittens at the source by sterilizing cats in the inner city that contribute most to Winnipeg’s cat overpopulation crisis. Cats Alive! makes it easy for inner city residents to do the responsible thing and spay/neuter their cats. For $20, inner-city residents can have their cats picked up, transported to our clinic, sterilized and returned home. This program has been a huge success with innercity residents who love their cats, but would not otherwise be able to afford vet services, or transport their cats back and forth to the vet.

Since the program began in 2004, 1,500 inner-city cats have been sterilized and returned to their owners. Given that one unsterilized female cat and her offspring can produce just over 1,700 cats a year, that adds up to thousands of unwanted kittens we have prevented since the program’s inception. The Cats Alive! goal for the second half of 2008 is to sterilize 500 more inner-city cats, and our goal for 2009 is even more ambitious. How big and how fast this program can grow is limited only by the resources we have at our disposal. The more money we have, the more inner-city cats can be sterilized. By donating to Cats Alive! via the donation box attached to this article, you can make a huge difference. Every dollar you donate will go directly toward the cost of spaying/neutering inner-city cats that are the biggest source of unwanted kittens. It will also allow inner-city residents with limited means the dignity of doing the right thing at a cost that is affordable to them. Cats Alive! is about ensuring that every kitten born is wanted and has a home. With your support, we can make that dream come true.

This article is dedicated to Jesse and James, two homeless inner-city kittens I am fostering as I write this article.

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