The Edmonton Humane Society held its first ever large scale Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) event this week. It partnered with the Canadian Animal Task Force to capture dozens of feral cats on a rural property outside of Edmonton.
Edmonton Humane Society CEO Liza Sunley said they partnered with the task force for guidance and plan to use what they learned to hold TNR clinics in the future.
This weekend, 94 cats were captured, with 36 kittens who are young enough to be socialized and will remain in the humane society’s care until they are old enough to be rehomed. Fifty-eight adults are being spayed or neutered and will be returning to their colony.
“It’s a big effort,” Sunley said.
“They have grown up outside and therefore their welfare will be compromised if they were to live with a family — it would be very stressful for them.”
Feral cats have little to no contact with humans and are not socialized with people. The humane society’s veterinarian, Disa Boyd, said staff put the cat’s welfare first.
“(We) treat them as calmly as possible, minimizing any interaction… This clinic is to help them get out as soon as possible,” Boyd said.
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Boyd was pleased to see this colony is very healthy, and the cats are in good condition. The animals will be monitored overnight to make sure there isn’t any infection and they will be returned home the next day.
Along with being spayed or neutered, the cats are vaccinated, treated for any parasites and tattooed.
While this is the humane society’s first big clinic, the Canadian Animal Task Force has helped more than 17,000 feral cats in the past 10 years.
“Throughout Canada, we see there is a cat issue. There are so many cat shelters, they are usually at capacity, they become a nuisance to neighbouring properties and then, of course, there is the health issues,” Canadian Animal Task Force executive director RJ Bailot said.
Bailot said clinics can cost between $5,000 to $20,000.
“Community cat management can only be successful with strong support from the communities we serve, and we are grateful the Edmonton Humane Society recognizes this and is willing to step up.”
In Edmonton, it was last reported that there are 65,000 feral cats in the city, with females able to have three litters a year, it can grow even more. Bailot said they get requests from all over the province, and the task force is currently holding TNR events every two weeks.
He hopes that momentum will grow, and more cat colonies will be addressed.
“I feel like we are definitely having an impact and eventually we will get to a stage where we are not having to do these high volume clinics,” Bailot said.
For this colony, the cats have a designated caregiver who maintains contact with the task force to support their ongoing health. Communities experiencing feral cat overpopulation can contact the task force for support.
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