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TRURO, NS – “If you love something, release it …” may be the mantra of choice for someone with a sore heart, but it is not the solution for dealing with unwanted animals.
However, too many people still fail to understand that releasing a family pet into the wild is simply wrong, says Patsy Oxner, chairwoman of the Colchester Chapter of Cat Rescue Maritimes (CARMA).
“Cats are abandoned all the time and that will never change because cats are viewed as throwaway pets that can fend for themselves in the wild,” she said of the long-standing problem in the county.
A recent example saw Oxner and other members of her group rescuing a friendly hangover in Belmont who had been hanging around someone’s home for several months.
She said neighbors tried unsuccessfully to get other organizations to deal with the stray before contacting CARMA.
“So we went up and got this boy. He couldn’t take care of himself. He’s definitely a bouncer, so that hasn’t changed, ”she said of the abandoned cat problem.
The Colchester group is one of four CARMA groups in Nova Scotia and one of 15 in the Maritimes. The local chapter started as Wayward Cats in 2015 before joining CARMA in 2019 to get the added support of a larger organization and the nonprofit status it qualifies for.
“Our job is to catch, neuter and return with other programs by our side,” said Oxner.
The group works with veterinary technicians from the Dalhousie Agriculture Campus to have the animals neutered.
And as knowledge of the group’s existence grows, Oxner said that too many people don’t know that there are other options for people who either can’t or don’t want to take care of their cats.
“Some people still don’t know that there is help there for them. That we can help them and help them fall, castrate and return, ”she said. “If it’s a friendly cat and we can work with it, If it’s not a friendly cat, it will be classified as a feral cat and that cat will be returned to the place where we caught it.”
People should also be aware that they can turn to CARMA if they discover a large colony of cats.
“We don’t just go out and catch for better or worse,” she said. “This is how it works, someone will contact us and ask for help with a colony they have. You have to register as a carer for this colony. Then we have permission to go to the property and then we start together with the caregiver. “
These cats will be returned as long as their health is good and they are not friendly. Most of the kittens don’t go back, we usually keep and adopt them. ”
Cat Rescue Maritime (CARMA) Colchester Chapter members Patsy (left) Jennifer and Heather at a conference in Moncton in 2019. Members do not disclose their last names to avoid direct contact. – Contributed
This time of year is also a crucial time to reach cats as it is the most common time of year for women to get pregnant, which only makes the problem worse.
“We’re entering the kittenseason and we’re getting a few more calls and messages,” she said.
Heather Woodin, program director at Colchester SPCA, agreed.
“Most of the time, there is concern about fertile females who could become pregnant. Now you have babies to catch, ”she said. “And things get more complicated when they are released in an area where someone doesn’t notice or reports it immediately.”
Woodin said that stray cats breed in warmer weather because they usually try to forage for food and keep warm in the colder months, although that is changing a little too, as recent winters have not been as harsh as they used to be.
“… so the season could start anytime if it’s warm enough,” she said.
And like CARMA, Woodin said that the SPCA is also available to help with the situation of abandoned and stray cats.
“We want to give people options, let them know we’re here,” she said. “Giving up is always an option. You don’t have to do without. “
Woodin said her general feeling was that the problem had improved as people started using the spading / neutering programs available.
“Some of the problems with bad behavior are decreasing,” she said. “We found that COVID also has some impact because people don’t move that much. Moving is a big reason people can’t take their pets with them, so fewer animals are driven away with less exercise. “
Like Oxner, she stressed the fact that weaning a cat in the country or elsewhere was cruel and not an adequate solution.
“You can’t leave a kitten in the country and expect it to be okay,” she said. “It’s not going to be good. There is wildlife and traffic, so much danger. It will have to deal with many injuries and illnesses. ”
For more information on the CARMA Colchester Chapter, please visit their Facebook page or the organization’s website at carma.org.
The Colchester SPCA can be found on the provincial website novascotiaspca.ca or on their Facebook page.
This female was abandoned during pregnancy before it was found and given to Cat Rescue Maritimes (CARMA). – Contributed