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Merrit BC Stray Cat Controversy

By Dr. Andrew Jones

A small town in BC has been in the news over their stray cat problem.

The Nicola Valley Animal Rescue says more than 500 feral cats roam the streets of Merritt.

The rescue group has set up feeding stations, but this does not sit well with the by law officers.

They are removing the food on a daily basis, then the group goes around and tops it up.

And no one is happy.

The cats are using neighboring yards as litter boxes- creating unpleasant odors.

A bylaw officer has asked the RCMP to charge the group criminally.

But a spokesperson for the group says that they are the ONLY ones doing anything about the problem.

They are catching the cats, and having them spayed/neutered.

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

P.S. Clearly there is a problem with individuals not having their cats spayed/neutered, then letting them roam.

Merrit is a small town near where I grew up- in fact we used to travel there to go to the dentist (yikes!), and go to the A & W drive through ( does anyone remember that? )

It’s not the most ‘progressive’ town, and the prevailing attitude would be:

‘ A cat’s a cat and I’m not spending 200 bucks to fix it’

Hence the cat overpopulation problem.

So the charges should be against the people that have chosen to not alter their cats and let them become feral.

P.P.S. I would love to hear what you think about this- feel free to leave a comment.



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Topics: Cat Care, Cat Health, Pet Care, Pet health | 68 Comments »

68 Responses to “Merrit BC Stray Cat Controversy”

  1. Avatar Michelle Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 6:09 am

    I feel very sad for these cats – must be terrible specially in winter time being hungry and having no family to take care of them .
    My opinion : – There must be world wide law forcing people to spay all pets Breeders should have permits These permits should be expensive to prevent careless people to breed pets and just scatter them around to people who are not serious about animal wealth

  2. Avatar Linda Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 6:28 am

    All of us are in some state of ignorance over something….and this sounds like the good folks in Merritt. They have a couple of alternatives….continue the feeding and spaying to help keep the population down…and consider the bathroom activity as “fertilizer”…discontinue the feeding/spaying and see the cats population grow and starve to death (that certainly takes care of using yards as bathrooms!)…do what they can as they can which is the best anyone can do. Wasting money in today’s economy on a lawsuit is beyond ridiculous.

  3. Avatar Irona Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Take in consideration that there are feral cats that are just born into the wild. But these cats, if not fed, will hunt for food like mice, rats, certain grasses, etc.. Once they discover a feeding station, they will not hunt any longer. I believe the cats need to be relocated near wilderness areas and slowly weened from the food being fed to them so they’ll learn to hunt for themselves again. But, ALL cats need to be “fixed” before the relocation to stop pregnacies! Problem solved.

  4. Avatar Linda Close Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Maybe those pet owners would be open to paying $50 or $60, instead of $200, for a spaying! I think some of the problem lies with the vets in that area, drop the egos, people, you can afford to offer these pet owners a spay/neuter special, for maybe a week or two once a year, get these animals FIXED!

  5. Avatar Katie Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 6:54 am

    A feral cat population is a problem, not only in small towns, but in many a town. Feeding the cats on a regular basis increases the problem as there is food available at all tines, which encourages cats to breed larger litters, hence more cats. The main culprits are the original owners who weren’t capable of looking after their cats properly. Neutering cats is one of the most common solutions and does help to keep the population in check. It would be a good idea to offer a special neutering program by the local vets for all cats, but that would bring them into conflict with their precious bank account. A donation fund may be the answer or like the PDSA in Britain, which is a registered charity for animals in need, treat and neuter the cats and give what one can afford. Ignorance in society will always be paid by the weaker ones in this case the cats.

  6. Avatar Judy Walker Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:05 am

    The spay-neuter is the way to go. There is a much smaller problem here at the college and a group is doing just that. People here are very bad about spay neuter dog or cat and it makes me sick that people look at animals as disposal items, especially the kittens and puppies as soon as they have lost their cuteness or ability to find someone to take them in. People need to learn to adopt when they want a pet (Pet Finders), there are so many that need good homes. We all need programs for low cost spay neuter and lots of education – start in the schools and teach kids the right way to care for pets and how much of a commitment it is. I am an old cat lady and if I were rich I’d have many more!!

  7. Avatar jamie Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I have a couple stray tomcats coming into my yard. They get into my shed and are infested with fleas. My neighbours home with indoor-only cats was infested. The present tomcat howls all nite in our backyards and pees on our porches….try to make homes in our sheds and under porches and decks. I have just flea-treated my own pets twice. My new persian that got pregnant by a feral cat who was waiting at my door when i opened it chased my cat to the basement and got her behind my furnace. He gave fleas to her then it spread amongst other pets in my house. I cannot imagine trying to control 500 feral cats in the neighbourhood.They need to implement some serious by-laws on pet owners in this town. Fire the mayor.. get one who takes this out of control situation seriously!

  8. Avatar Dianne Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I think that they did create the problem and should take care of it humanely. We had a feral cat population, but they were only 18. We took care of them at our house, and had them all spayed and neutered. We did sell the house and move, but the new owners agreed to take offer the population!
    There were vets that offered low cost spay/neuter for feral cats.
    The community needs to have them spayed/neutered and then find homes for the ones that can live with humans. Hopefully, a vet will help, as well as caring individuals in the community.

  9. Avatar Sue Muntz Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Trap, neuter and release is the only way to go for controlling feral populations. Groups like Alley Cat Allies have been promoting this for years and have the data to back up the success of such programs.

  10. Avatar Judy Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:13 am

    I have always had my cats and dogs fixed .There are to many that no one wants and gets drop off to fiend for them self, to suffer or die.

  11. Avatar Pat Likes Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Again, this is not the fault of the CATS! It’s humans again. Why not spay and neuter them and adopt them out Where else do you expect them to “go” ?? Round up all the humans who abandoned the cats in the first place and have them pay for the spay and neuter. How sad!!

  12. Avatar Debi Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:35 am

    We have lots of feral cat colonies here in Hawaii. People feed them. We have a TNR program. Trap, Neuter, and Return agreement with the local vets. They take turns going to the ASPCA every couple of weeks after the people who take care of them trap all they can who haven’t been spayed or neutered. They take them in, between everybody over 100 cats and they’re all done in one day. A small but easily visible notch is placed on one ear or another to indicate male/female and that they’ve already been neutered. Works very well. The neuter clinic is done voluntarily by the local vets as a community service so the people who care for the cats don’t have to pay anything..

  13. Avatar Clayton Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:37 am

    this problem is only going to be cleaned up when everyone starts to work together, there need to be a community effort to capture the Cats and either a subsidized spaying/ neuter program or the veterinarians step up and donate the service. but unless this coincidences with education about the importance of proper animal management and care. this cycle will reoccur like abuse. here is my 2 cents, everyone have a great day.

  14. Avatar Nancy Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:49 am

    This is once again a problem created by humans where the victims are blamed. TNR is a very effective means of controlling so called “feral” cats. Felus Catus was “domesticated” by humans and humans should be held accountable for them. Felus silvestris
    The problem is compounded by the fact that nonhuman animals are considered property and most laws concerning them are nill or nonexistent.
    This needs to change.

  15. Avatar Lynda H. Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I agree with some of you in that the charges for spay/neuter is so expensive!!! I have a bunch of barn cats, and certainly can’t afford to do it on my Disability income (they “came” with this place). I won’t let them starve either. But to just take and dump them in the wild is cruel too. How will they survive winter when there’s no food or shelter??? At least the good people of this town are trying to do something and not just ignoring them. I also agree that there should be some kind of universal spay/neuter law and STOP the breeding of unwanted, neglected animals. Again, vets and pharmaceutical companies don’t need to charge anywhere near what they do. In the plast year, my dog’s ear medication went from $5 to almost $30! Thanks to Dr. Jones, I’m now trying the white vinegar thing in his ears. To me, a lot of it is just plain greed. Good luck to this towns cat problem. I hope they figure it out in a humane way. Thanks for reading my rant!

  16. Avatar Nancy Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:54 am

    This is once again a problem created by humans where the victims are blamed. TNR is a very effective means of controlling so called “feral” cats. Felus Catus was “domesticated” by humans and humans should be held accountable for them.
    The problem is compounded by the fact that nonhuman animals are considered property and most laws concerning them are nill or nonexistent.
    This needs to change.

  17. Avatar Michelle Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:08 am

    My comment is kudos to the animal rescue for actually implementing a humane solution to the problem instead of sitting around complaining about it. Charge the people who have refused to do anything to help these poor animals. I truly believe lacking compassion should be a crime.

  18. Avatar Sheila Williamson Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:08 am

    God bless those rescue folks for taking care of the ferrells. The town and municipal/animal service workers should pitch in and join the cause. Shame on them for harrassing people who care. I have never been able to figure out how people can ignore the plight of fellow living(breathing/hungry/thirsty/hurting) beings. My hubby and I also seem to be the only ones in our community who lose sleep over the plight of these beautiful creatures. We have a houseful (all sterilized and vaccinated)of those that have decided to trust humans (against all instincts and past experience) and we cut a cat-sized hole in the outside door of our cold room and installed a heater, chair and blanket with food and water so the ones that won’t come near humans can sneak in and out and eat, get warm, nap, drink clean water etc. Although the time and vet/food bills are overwhelming, we feel constantly blessed by the positive and loving energy that these furry beings bring to our lives. My husband is currently fighting cancer and we would appreciate prayers and positive energy-thank you so much!

  19. Avatar Louise Lansdorp Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I volunteered with the San Diego Feral Cat Coalition and we used to trap several cats a month and had them spayed/neutered by all volunteer vets and other volunteers. Some vets in our town will spay/neuter feral cats once a month for free, usually 1 or 2 in addition to the monthly clinics given by the Feral Cat Coalition. We would keep the fixed cats(I sometimes had 13 or more in my garage) and release them the next day or 2 days later (females). I think this is a good thing and I did volunteer for a few years.

  20. Avatar mary Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:12 am

    i feel sorry for the cats for they are the one being punished for owners neglect. i have had a cat since a kitten and she was trained with a collar and leash. when the dogs goes out so does my cat, on a leash. i did have her fixed too. keeping my animals safe and others around us is important for all concerned. when we moved into this place about 7 months ago, we also acquired 12 stray cats and kittens. i had momma kitty and two kittens out front and momma kitty and 6 kittens out back. so it has been a challenge to keep my two big dogs from getting to them. so i had to put food out where i knew my dogs could not get to. one night when we put our dog out to go potty, one of the little kittens had wondered up on our porch and we did not see it. our dog did, the kitten froze and the only way i could think to save it was to pick it up. just as i reached the kitten, my dog was reaching too, got me instead and i watched happy that it got away although i did not. i was thankful that it was me not the kitten. that kitten is still here with momma kitty and is still have one black one out back. i am working on getting them people friendly in hopes to find them a good home. so far only the kitten that i saved has begun to let me pet it and have picked it up 2 times. anyways it upsets me to see how owners do their cats and dogs. if you cannot handle the responsibility then dont do it. i have had my cat for 12 years now. we had another dog which she died of cancer last year and we had her for 14 years, we have another dog that we have had for 11 years. we ended up with our 2 other dogs due to owners neglect of them. we acquired them because they got parvo along with the other 5 pups which we could not save. the sad part of it is they got the momma dog from the humane society and was set up for an appointment to get her fixed and did not do it, then they let her run the neighborhood along with all the other dogs. for every law that helps protect, that makes humans pay for their neglect i am for. i could go on and on

  21. Avatar Evelyn Marcy Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:17 am

    We had a similar problem here in Florida. The solution is for the Humane Society and vets to offer low cost spaying/neutering. Ours offered to do this for $45.00 (includes a rabies shot). So far, I’ve paid for 9 cats, and 2 of them adopted us now. The situation here with our feral cats has slowed down to a manageable level.

    I hope this town can find the same solution.

  22. Avatar BJ Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I have had many dogs & cats in the past 25 yrs. Only 1 was “my” idea, the rest have been rescues or in need of a new home. Once the decision is made that they will live with me, I immediately call my vet to spay or neuter. Where do most feral cats come from?? Let’s start with irresponsible pet owners – no need to spay or neuter, kitty grew up & isn’t “cute” anymore, etc. You have a group of citizens that are willing to spend THEIR time & money to help these now homeless cats, but the bylaw officers want to criminally charge these people. Has the entire world gone crazy??

  23. Avatar Ann Wattier Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:26 am

    The Trap, Neuter, Release program has been used in many communities with a great deal of success.
    Too bad this community can’t implement there. Of course it is always the humans who make the mess and the animals who have to pay, usually with their lives. Wake up people you have to share with world God created with the animals He also created.

  24. Avatar Eileen Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Feral cats will always be a problem because people are free to do what they wish with their property. The alternative is worse: nosy neighbors or fascist animal nannies telling you the ‘right’ way to raise a pet, even if they officers never owned a pet in their lives.

    I’m not really in favor of expensive breeding permits either. Under that system household pets would become so expensive that only the well heeled can afford to own a pet. Imagine what it would be like if you had to pay $15,000 for a purebred dog.

    The Trap, Spay, Release programs set up by various SPCA organizations around the country is perhaps one of the more enlightened feral cat programs. I like the idea of weaning the cats from caretakers of feral colonies so these (now spayed) cats can learn to fend for themselves and stop having kittens.

  25. Avatar dirtbikemommie Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:33 am

    people not spaying/neuturing their cats and then letting them be outside are the ones who start problems like this. people are not allowed to let their dogs run all willy nilly, why should cats be an exception. cats are hard to contain in a yard and whatnot, so the best place for them is indoors. if people are going to let their cats go outside, then they should have them fixed. if a cat is outside and it hasnt been fixed than the owner should be fined.

  26. Avatar Carole McKee-Spalino Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:36 am

    This is a sad situation. People who have cats and don’t have them spayed or neutered are irresponsible and negligent. Cats should not be allowed to roam free! It’s dangerous. I don’t like the idea that these feral cats may be hungry and starving, but feeding them is only keeping them healthy enough to breed. Of course, if they were in my neighborhood, I would feed them, too. Starvation is a painful way to die. I believe there should be stricter pet-owner laws and cat owners especially should be held accountable for the care of their pets. Yes, spaying/neutering is expensive, but if you can’t afford it, you should not have a pet. I talked my mother out of getting a cat for that very reason. Pets are the responsibility of their owners Period. It is cruel to own any animal and not take care of it properly.

  27. Avatar Yvonne Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    The problem is not only cats, but dogs also.Just my humble but inflammatory opinion here…all cats and dogs not used for breeding should be spayed and neutered.PERIOD. And that service should be provided at low or no cost. Breeders should be licensed and regulated, with prices that will make people more inclined to adopt a pet from a shelter versus buying a puppy that is the latest craze or the most popular at the moment. With that large of a feral population of cats, or even packs of dogs that some larger cities have, would it be better in the long run to pur down some of these animals to reduce the feral population, to cut down on the spread of disease, possible rabies, etc, not to mention their suffering and struggle to find food and shelter? In the story above, these cats may be neutured, but they are being released and you still have 500 feral cats roaming around!Before ou sau I’m heartless, I currently have two dogs that are rescued animals, one a part bloodhound as a 6 week old puppy that is now 5 years old. She was dumped on a country road along with her littermates. The other is a Jack Russell that I inherited after my father passed away, and she is a dog he rescued from a shelter after an aquaintance decided she had too much energy and was too much trouble to be an inside dog. All the dogs and cats we have had off and on throughout the years we had fixed, even the registered breeds.

  28. Avatar Judy Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Why do people aquire pets, if they are not able or willing to take proper care of them? I live in the country and there are many feral cats around my house. People also dump them at a park not far from where I live. We have a volunteer organization in my area called “Friends of Feral Felines” (www.friendsofferalfelines.org)a nonprofit organization committed to the humane management of feral cats. They help the public trap, sterilize, vaccinate, and release feral cats. I believe the government should have a low cost/no cost spay/neuter program available to every pet owner in the US. The shelters are overcrowded with unwanted animals and too many of them are still put to death by inhumane methods (e.g. gas chambers). Ignorant people will still continue to aquire pets even though they cannot afford them, and this problem will only continue to escalate. For all the money the government puts into “kill” shelters, they could implement a spay/neuter program.

  29. Avatar Linda H. Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I have taken care of a colony of 14 cats for years. They are all spayed/neutered, thanks to First Coast No More Homeless Pets. (They charged $25 to spay/neuter each cat.) TNR is the only way to stop the population growth. Alley Cat Allies has a lot of information on the subject. I love hearing how Hawaii is handling their feral cats. The Vets of Merritt need to follow suit. I beg to differ with Irona, but the cats in my colony still hunt. I feed them well but I constantly see carcasses of prey that they’ve fed upon. It’s in their nature.

  30. Avatar Judith Graham Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 9:30 am

    ASPCA (or its BC counterpart) can assist with Trap Neuter Return. Many grassroots groups are trying to organize TNR in their local areas. Whiskers Rescue in Sayreville, NJ, or Alley Cat Allies in Washington, DC, can advise. Thank you for publicizing this issue.

  31. Avatar christel fiore Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 9:39 am

    It will take a village,with donations and dedicated Veterinarians dropping their regular fee.. The catch,neuter,release with a notch in the ear is a great solution.
    How about it people?Give the cats and yourself a break.

  32. Avatar Sherry Sauerbry Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Man has created the feral, and free roaming cat f problem. Therefore it is our responsibility to take care of these cats and TNR, manage the colonies, and educate and work with the communities.

    The ASPCA endorses Trap-Neuter-Return as the only proven humane and effective method to manage feral cat colonies. This stabilizes the population, stops roaming, spraying, yowling and fighting.

    Low cost neutering and spaying is possible through grants. ASPCA has a grant process. PetSmart Charities is providing Heartland SPCA in Merrim KS $50,000 a year for two years. This will allow them to TNR 2400 feral and free roaming cats in the next two years with no charge. This includes their basic $15.00 package of spay/neuter surgery, rabies vaccines, pain medication, an antibiotic injection and and eartip.The $10.00 secondary package includes the additional services of FVRCP (distemper)
    vaccine, flea treatment and dewormer is also included in this project.

    Feral cat community care givers in Independence, Mo feed the cats twice a day so there is no food left out for other animals, or humans to prevent them from feeding. This also allows them to monitor the welfare of the cats, and determine medical care is needed or if new cats need to be neutered. They provide sand for the cats to use, and clean and refurnish shelters in the fall.

    How to keep Feral Cats Out of your yard
    Whether feral cats are roaming your yard, digging up your garden, rooting through your trash or making a home under your porch, there are several types of harmless cat repellents available to help. From sprays and motion-activated sprinklers to ultrasonic animal repellents, these quick and easy solutions, coupled with TNR and ongoing management, can help you coexist with your neighborhood cats! Just make sure your product of choice is nontoxic to animals.

    Want to help the feral cats in YOUR town?
    ASPCA is a source for excellent Trap-Neuter-Return and colony management programs that benefit both cats and communities.


  33. Avatar Dana Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I used to have a few feral cats in my yard. They did not bother my cats, but they did help with the hunting chores. I live close to water which means rats by the thousands if they are not kept under control. Now that too many panic artists have done CNR on every cat in sight, I must pay exterminators to help my one cat do the job of rodent control. There is a vet in the area who actually advised in a news article to kill all cats found outdoors. I do not believe his idiocy. There’s the one who should not be allowed to practice!!!

  34. Avatar Phyll Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 10:29 am

    My first thought, before i read all the comments, was (I am from NZ though)why does it have to cost so much to spey these cats? I think the only way to solve this problem is recognise it is a problem for EVERYONE living there. It doesn’t matter now who caused it. Just get it dealt with! This would mean the whole community getting involved in helping to spey & neuter these cats, put down those that are diseased & find homes for the rest. By the whole community I certainly include the vets! I see it as a community project. If the citizens put money & their time in in then the vets should do the same by lowering their fees considerably to achieve this project. They are, presumably, part of the community too. Spending money on lawsuits is a complete waste of resources. As well as dealing with what HAS happened a law could be put in force that, apart from registered breeders, anyone who owns a cat needs to have it speyed or neutered or face a hefty fine. There is an old expression (English I think) which says “Pee or get off the potty”. I’d love to know how much time has been wasted since the feral polulation was a 10th of what it is now!

  35. Avatar Rhonda Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I live in a small city in southeast Ohio. We too have a feral cat problem. My neighbor and I try to feed as many as possible since they are a living creature that didn’t ask to be abandoned and they are hungry. Feeding them keeps them from digging in trash also. We have tried to get help from local humane society but have had no luck. I think it would be impossible to track down any owners to prosecute. People get cats and leave them outside to fend for themselves, if those people were ask are those you cats, they would lie. I wish there was any easy answer for this big problem, but I sure don’t know what it would be. I think catching and spaying is the best answer. The problem we have is nobody is willing to do this for free and those of us that do care don’t have the money to pay for all these cats.

  36. Avatar Barbara Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Many cat owners just don’t care. They let their cats roam the neighborhood. Sometimes these cats will get trapped, taken off somewhere and dumped. I have a neighbor that even let’s a brother and sister have kittens together! Thank God he’s not classified as being a “breeder”!

  37. Avatar Nance Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Sad situation for the cats. People once again are the problem – irresponsible owners. I think fines are appropriate if owners choose not to spay or neuter their cats. It would be nice if the vets would offer a minimal cost spay/neuter clinic once per month.

  38. Avatar Mare Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 11:33 am

    We had a similar situation in our small town. There were so many strays that a small group of cat lovers started trapping and spaying/neutering, and then releasing these fairly wild cats. Then they were setting up feeding stations and giving the cats shelter. But there were many people who felt this was “encouraging” the cats to defecate on their property, and they started raiding these feeding/shelter stations, knocking them down and even going so far as to try to shoot the cats with pellet guns!I think the cat group is still doing their work, but had to go “underground” an keep their work secret. What a shame. The reason there are so many feral cats overrunning towns is because people are lazy, ignorant, stupid and cruel. The two kittens i have in my family now were from abandoned/stray litters, and they are the sweetest most social and loving cats i have ever known. Both kittens are spayed and are strictly indoor cats. This Spring i will see about having an outdoor enclosed area built for them in my dog’s yard….

  39. Avatar Marja Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Low-cost spay and neuter will be a primary solution.

    TNR is the next part of the solution.

    Fines against pet owners who have unneutered/unspayed pets is another solution and one which would raise funds for low-cost spay/neuter clinics.

    EVERY veterinarian should sponsor low-cost spay/neuter clinics for one or two days a month, at times when low-income/poor people can bring in their pets [when buses run, when low-income people are not working]. I feel this should be an INTEGRAL PART of any veterinary practice, out of simple compassion for animals. They could request contributions from willing members of the community for this service.

    The solution is legislation and compassion. It won’t even take that much money, just management and caring.

    And legislators that have the guts to put humane laws in place.

  40. Avatar Annette Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I find this cruel. They are offering no solution, just ensuring these poor babies misery.
    I’d rather they were rounded up and euthanized than treated this way. A cold winter with no food and people who want to hurt you not to mention the natural predators….not a way anyone would want their lives to end.
    (Naturally, feeding/trapping and spay/neuter is the best choice).

  41. Avatar Betty Hansen Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Education about the various options in regards to spay and neudering is the answer. I am looking after many feral and non-feral cats. People dump cats that are already spayed and neudered too. If you can’t afford the cost, saving is the answer. If you put a few coins in a jar everyday, they mound up fast and there is always help from other sources like SPCA and Humane Society, etc. There is no excuse for not spaying or neudering. If you can’t catch a cat or kitten, there are traps that will catch them alive for taking to vets. What a sad world we live in these days.

  42. Avatar Mary Beninato Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I agree with you Linda, Irona is wrong about not feeding the cats so they will hunt. A lot of people believe this but cats have a natural hunting instinct and will hunt even with a full stomach. Several years before Katrina, New Orleans recognized the good feral cats did in keeping the rat population down. It cast $15 to have the cats neutered. The cat was trapped and the vet would neuter/spray, clipped the tip of the ears so one would know that cat was already fixed. In having this done you took the responsibility of seeing that they had food and clean water. After Katrina most of the feral cats drowned and the rat population went sky high.

  43. Avatar Kristina Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Feral cats are a problem every where. They cannot be caught and turned into good, little house pets. By altering them, they can no longer breed faster than bunnies. Here in Phoenix it is $20 to alter a male and $30 for a female. That is a small price to pay to keep the population down. Feral cats can also spread disease – FIV and Leukemia to healthy pets that may be out roaming. In the apartment complex where I live we have a problem with feral cats. They are in the dumpsters and trash bins. They keep the rodents population down, but can be a nusiance.
    I think that group in BC is doing a great job by trying to get a handle on the feral population and the RMCP should just leave them alone.

  44. Avatar Kerry-Ann Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I think the first thing they need to do, since the mind set in this town is, ” A cat’s a cat and I’m not spending 200 bucks to fix it,” is significantly reduce the cost of spaying and neutering so that everyone can afford to spay or neuter their cat and can no longer use the costs as an excuse. Second, fines should be implemented for cat owners who’s cats are found roaming the streets and are not spayed or neutered, sometimes losing money forces people to act some what responsible. This is so sad, innocent cats just wanting food, water and warmth.

  45. Avatar Dana Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Trap Neuter Release Low cost spay/neuter and good people who are willing to manage a colony of ferals. Simple? Yes. Easy? No so…
    We finally got this type of program going in Chicago. That’s a big deal for a major city. If Chicago can do this so can a podunk town in British Columbia.

  46. Avatar Peter Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Solution is simple. Place oral contraceptive kibble in the feeding stations.

  47. Avatar Diane from California Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I identify with this town – I lived through something like this. I moved into a neighborhood that had ignored the local feral cat colony for years. I didn’t notice it until discovering a litter of feral kitties in my backyard. A neighbor told me to expect 2 litters a year and showed me the rocks she had put in her flower beds to discourage cats from using them as litter boxes. I could not figure out why no one took any action. I did some research and found the best option for me & the cats: ‘trap, neuter and release.’ I rented harmless traps to catch them and spent time and effort perfecting my skills at trapping them though I did catch a few oppossums at first. I found programs that would pay for spaying/neutering and vet clinics that offered low cost neutering, though I did pay for some myself. I found homes for the kittes and adopted a few myself. When the cats were neutered I had the clinics clip off the top of one of their ears so after being released people would know they were fixed. One vet clinic said this was a good idea because they had been told people were killing feral cats to keep the population down. I didn’t take the feral adults to the local pound because they would have been killed – I knew this from experience. None of my neighbors ever helped, even the ones that found kitty litters in their garage. I neutered almost 25 cats and even managed to tame some. Some wandered off, one got hit by a car, coyotes got others, some would periodically come around for food while 6 stayed in my backyard for years. In fact, there is one cat that still sleeps in my garage at night and spends his days in my backyard. And, contrary to what they say, there is no longer a feral cat colony though some lived as long as 10 years. The whole process was heartbreaking but very rewarding. I count it as one of my best experiences.

  48. Avatar Diane Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    From Toronto, Canada. We have same here.
    Dr. Jones, you might want to contact Bill Bruce from Calgary, he is amazing AND he has a passion for these poor poor animals. As Head of Animal Services, he has reduced the stray cat population, his euthanization rate to 3-4%, and his shelters are empty. He gave us a presentation in Toronto and I am sure he would give you or whomever is willing, lots of ideas how to reduce this feral cat population.
    – Low cost spay/neuter required by: local vets? SPCA? Animal Services? Humane Society?
    – TNR and
    – ADOPT-A-THONS, I am sure in this group there are adoptable cats/kittens.
    We all know this is a world problem that the humans have created. Let the humans solve it!
    With the right attitude AND the passion, it can be done! Kudoos for you to have mentioned throughout the animal lover groups who use your products! Glad I connected with you through another rescue friend of mine. I did receive your “Ultimate Feline Formula” to-day and will try it for the first time, I have many cats in my shelter so I spread the powder on their wet food. It may last me 1 wk. 1/2, I will have to use 10 scoops a day. Let’s see!

  49. Avatar Les Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    The problem starts with people letting their cats outside. When domestic cats are allowed to roam outside they are an INVASIVE SPECIES, and they do harm to the environment as any invasive species does. There should be a worldwide law against letting cats roam free.

  50. Avatar Kate Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Makes one wonder if the Merrit by-law officer has a relative who is a lawyer and that is why he is so keen to sue people who are trying to make a difference. Well done to Diane, Sheila and to others who make such an effort. The TNR program should be compulsory in all towns and cities. Perhaps veterinary students could also be asked to help out in more remote areas where there are no clinics. But no animal should be killed or starved to death for man’s error. Who are these people going to blame if we than have plagues of mice and rats? Some feral cats are needed but could be controlled using the TNR method.
    Not mentioned is the Cat Man on parliament Hill in Ottawa. He daily feeds and tends to the feral cats and it has become another spot to visit. Visitors can also make donations towards the feeding and neutering of these cats. Until ignorant people stop thinking it would be cute to let Fido and Kitty have a litter, with no responsibility of where their offspring will end up, there will always be cages full of unwanted pets in humane societies and maybe humans caught neglecting and mistreating animals should be forced to spend several days working at their local shelters.

  51. Avatar danielle Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    that is just not right they are makeing the problem worse they should not be feeding them the people are not helping at all in fact they are problem worse but that is good the people of Merrit got it handeled

  52. Avatar Nicola Valley Animal Rescue Society Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    This is a fantastic site! I’d like to thank everyone that has made comments, the good, the bad, the thought-provoking. We’ll be issuing another Press Release this evening to clarify our stand and what we are actually doing. Hopefully a positive solution will be found between all. Please visit our Facebook page (website is set to launch next month) for updates.
    And thank you for your support!
    Amber Fearnley
    Nicola Valley Animal Rescue Society

  53. Avatar Robin Gilman Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I’m from Connecticut, and we have the same problem in many small and large towns. The people don’t think. We have had many people that request to adopt but they don’t want the cats fixed. Our policy is to fix and microchip all our cats. If more people would fix their animals there wouldn’t be such an over-population. We do have some discounnt spay/neuter clinics but the people are still to cheap to have their cats fixed. People just don’t care. Instead of spending the money on a law suit they should spend the money on having the cats fixed and relocated to a safe area and fed on a daily bases. There needs to be a law that if you are going to have an animal you need to take care of that animal that includes having the the cat or dog fixed and have the required vaccinations. If they can’t or don’t they should be fined and the money should go to help fix and feed the homeless animals.

  54. Avatar Catherine Bégin Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Remember, folks, that in Canada, art. 446 of the Criminal Code forbid to harm any animal intentionally.

    That is exactly what these bureaucrats and cretins are doing by stealing the cat food. They should be sued.

    Who will take them to Court ?

    Even unfed, feral cats will still reproduce but being weaker, they will live a very painful life thanks to humans who should protect them instead.

    Is it what we want in this world ? More cruelty ?

  55. Avatar Annette Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Loved the pic of Gussie….such a sweetie.

    Human cruelty just sickens me. And that kind of attitude isn’t just in one area or isolated to one species. I had a friend in the military years ago who had gone to several very poor countries where he said the people abandoned their children regularly. They were called “street children”. He said the cops would shoot them similarly to a wild animal if he saw one breaking the law(any law-even trespassing).
    No one spoke up for them. No one wanted them who could afford to raise them. They were just scrounging to survive, but were treated like a nuisance.

    The way we treat our animals will eventually become the way we treat any of our weaker or downtrodden and when we develop the ability to harden our hearts to one species you can be assured that your own will in time be given little if any consideration or kindness as well.

    It’s already happening in our aged. A friend took her 90yr old mother to the hospital who was in pain. They refused to run diagnostics to even see if it was something treatable. Because the cause wasn’t obvious, they told her to take her home as nothing can be done at her age. She died in agony over the next 2-3 weeks at home. I believe she lived in Washington state at the time.
    I saw my father suffer similar attitude when he was in his 70s battling cancer just a few years ago. He was given minimal time or attention by his doctors(unless they could do very expensive tests where they’d get paid grandly). He even FELL coming off the elevator walking into the office where he got chemo. They didn’t examine him or question him, just helped him up & gave it to him anyway. (Chemo treatments are NOT inexpensive) Two days later he collapsed. Turned out he had pneumonia and a blood disease and they had been giving him CHEMO without checking out his obvious symptoms or calling his oncologist. Nope the attitude was he’s old, he’s lived long enough and all old people hurt. We will simply follow protocol.
    He wasn’t treated humanely.

    I feel this callousness towards life (quality of, not necessarily extending it) is rampant and it’s extremely frightening to think of the pain and repercussions it causes to it’s victims everywhere.

    These poor furbabies aren’t the only victims here.
    So are the people, esp. the children of that town who are learning that we don’t feed or care for the sick, injured or elderly once it becomes inconvenient. Again, cruelty is contageous and will jump species. WWII was proof.

  56. Avatar Maureen Loney Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 7:37 am

    A friend and I started a feral cat rescue program in Mississauga 16 years ago. First 5 years we did it on our own,using our own funds, then became a registered charity, doing fundraisers and set up a website and newsletter on line where people could donate. We solicted help from local veterinarians to do our spay/neutering, vaccination at a low cost. Some ferals can be socialized and adopted many cannot. The ones that could we worked with and found homes for.

    We set up a barn relocation program. Farmers with barns are always looking for cats to keep the rodent population down. However they do not spay and neuter. as most cannot afford it. We sought out farms with barns (you can find many that have websites) and started contacting them about our program. They had to provide adequate shelter and provide food (in some cases if this was a problem we provided food on a regular basis with donations from the pet food companies who we got to come on board). We interviewed the people and made sure they were committed to looking after these cats and inspected the premises. All the cats placed were spayed, neutered, vaccinated and given a clean bill of health before placement.
    We kept in contact with these people to check on the progress of the cats and to try to help with any problems they were having. We have been extremely successful with this program. We have people who have cats that we have placed that ae now into their senior years and still doing well. Many of these formerly feral cats socialized so well that they became housecats. We get pictures and updates on a regular basis on the cats and when some of the cats pass on they come back to us and offer barn homes for the ferals.

    Shelters mostly will not take ferals and if they do it is only to euthanize them. Some vets won’t even take on a feral cat but they are out there if you look hard enough. We have four clinics that work with us and have been helping us for 15 years. This requires a lot of effort and dedication but it can be done with committed volunteers. The cats get a home, communities have their feral cat population reduced and the farmers have their solution to their rodent problems. Contrary to what many believe cats that are fed on a regular basis still do hunt. It also has the benefit of preventing the spread of feline diseases.

    I also feel that veterinarians need to do more. If they do not want to take on ferals and strays in their clinics on a regular basis then offer to help run a low cost spay neuter clinic a couple of times a year. Many people (I live in a rural farming community now) simply cannot afford to spay and neuter as much as they would like to. In Rural areas veterinarian care is much more expensive as they do not have the volume of clients that big city practices do. I have tried for the past 10 years to get the vets in our area to help out to no avail. They did run a low cost rabies vaccine clinic for a few years in association with a local service group. But they cancelled that program a couple of years ago, too much trouble and not enough profit I guess.

    Maureen Loney

  57. Avatar Lori England Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I live in Houston and work with a dog rescue and we have a group that does something similar. There is a poor part of town where people dump dogs and this group, Corridor Rescue, feeds and provides water for the dogs. Their ultimate aim is to trap the animals, get them vetted and then get them adopted, but the problem is huge. I admire what they do and perhaps the group can add an adoption portion to their program. Of course, this is very expensive, they have to house and vet the animals in the meantime, but with the outrage…perhaps there could be a few kind souls to help fund and then fundraising can occur, etc. http://www.corridorrescue.org/

  58. Avatar Laurie Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 7:56 am

    It really angers me when people don’t fix their pets. I have always had my pets fixed. It’s not just for the animals sake. It’s not fun when females go into heat, and not fun when males mark their territory, fight and disappear looking for the females, not to mention the poor babies. Our back alley has ferrel cats and I have seen kittens, then no kittens (which tells me the winter was much too hard on them, we get pretty extreme temperatures). I have seen cats with ears frozen off, cats limping from injuries, cats in the dumpsters looking for food.It saddens me very deeply. I have on occasion tried to catch a kitten here and there but they want nothing to do with humans. I only do my small part, but I am very glad that there are people out there who do so much more. If only I had a farm, I would have a menagerie of animals.

  59. Avatar Kristina Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I’ve already commented on the article – but couldn’t fina a spot to comment on your new baby. She is adorable and just wants daddy to love her. You are either working too hard or she realizes you are in pain. I have epilepsy and my one kitty always lets me know if I’m going to have a seizure. Animals are just really intune with some people.

  60. Avatar Nia Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    “It’s not the most ‘progressive’ town, and the prevailing attitude would be:
    ‘ A cat’s a cat and I’m not spending 200 bucks to fix it’”

    Hence, the residents of this town are feral, someone please spay them. Also, I’m sure the town is not so obscure that they can’t get to a SPCA where they can fix their pets for a fee based on need. People are so careless and lazy.

  61. Avatar Darlene Dean Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I think Merrit needs a wonderfully caring Veterinarian like Nanaimo’s Dr. Langelier who gives his time unstintingly to the spaying and neutering of cats through the city’s SPCA services, thus keeping the cat population at a minimum. How can we let the pet suffer that’s left by those inhumane people who move and leave it to the care of the neighbourhood? Italy has numerless colonies of feral cats; they are credited with controlling the rat population!!

  62. Avatar Patty Says:
    January 14th, 2012 at 6:03 am

    I think so much more can be done to help the strays if all the caring souls, in ALL the communities would do their part. Advertise for volunteers and people who are willing to take them in or help socialize the strays in our shelters. Do this advertising at no cost in the grocery stores, laundromats, anywhere they will let you. An organization or a nice group of animal helpers could have notes sent home in kids backpacks. There are a lot of wonderful people in this world, more good than bad. If we all could do our part, we could help this situation. Find vets who will do inexpensive spaying/nuetering and educate the ignorant people…in notes in backpacks if we must. Lower adoption fees so low income people who have big hearts can help out too. We are very low income and have 2 dogs (1 a rescue), and 2 cats (1 a rescue also), a bird, and a snake. Our rescue dog cost $330, but we had to do our part. Our animals never miss a meal and our cats and dogs are all spayed/nuetered. We give them vacines through Dr. Foster and Smith a mail order company in WI. It’s easy and VERY cheap! Although the vet does have to do the rabies shots….we manage. Our kids and pets are priority. GOD BLESS all of you who have the hearts to help the strays and your own pets to live the best life possible. It’s the animal lovers who benefit (pets make people more compationate to the world) and that is what the world needs. Love thy neighbor (and the animals of the world) as ourselves! Thank you, animal lovers!

  63. Avatar barb derick Says:
    January 14th, 2012 at 10:37 am

    calgary has done great by taking money from pet licensing to pay for fixing pets. vet costs are so high even middle class have issues with vet costs. it is ridicules how much they charge. The city should take all money from licensing, or part of fees charged for offences and put in to fixing pets.

  64. Avatar ann Says:
    January 14th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    To those who say that feeding these poor creatures is wrong. Are u crazy!? I hope u r never hungry and looking fir help! These poor babies didn’t ask to live like this. People were ultimately responsible for this problem, people should do something about it. It is an easy out to turn our backs and say do nothing or to blame those who try to do something but hasn’t it been said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing? Shame on everyone who turns their backs on anything in need. And shame on those officials who take the food. Nothing should starve.! Let us all hope people wake up before this becomes an accepted way of getting tis of unwanted beings. Whose to say what will b next? Perhaps you?

  65. Avatar Joyce Says:
    January 14th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    where I live in Italy, people who care would take up a collection to help everyone-I’d be disappointed to think that my fellow Americans wouldn’t be able or willing to do the same. There ARE a lot of good people everywhere who love cats and want to protect them. I hope a GOOD solution will be found-

  66. Avatar valda Says:
    January 15th, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Say for a year or 2 a levy was paid by the people of Meritt, the cats could be trapped ,neutured,and tagged , so they would know they had been done ,also the vet’s doing it for a reasonable ,nominal cost,this would eventually stop the breeding ,less kittens ,whenever a cat was found without a tag it could be taken to be neutured ,also feeding stations for the cats ,in time as they aged the population of the cats would diminish and the problem would be solved.

  67. Avatar Kathi Says:
    January 20th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    The group of rescuers(sic) in Merritt have been aware of the cat problem in my neighborhood for more than 2 years and were aware of where the problem lay and chose not to do anything about it.

    This whole issue began when I went to the city to borrow a cat trap back in 2009, to trap the cats that were attacking our elderly cat every time she went out onto our porch. A neighbor saw the cat trap, lured the cats into her house and locked them away.

    I borrowed cat carriers to take any caught cats to the SPCA in Kamloops, but it never got that far. Transferring a wild cat to another carrier was fraught with problems and the adult cats got away. We released one cat 3 times because she was obviously nursing and had kittens out there somewhere.

    But what we did catch and keep hold of were 5 kittens whose eyes were just beginning to open. Their mother had been lured and locked away, so we took them in, bathed them, took care of their eyes and taught them to drink formula. The mother along with the other adult cats reappeared 2 weeks after we caught the kittens. We raised them with our small parrot and funny enough, she imprinted on all 5 kittens. We found homes for the kittens (3 kittens went to homes with birds) where they have been spayed and neutered and inoculated and we kept one that we still have.

    We have not been able to use our yard for 2 summers now because of the stench from the cats crapping my gardens and spraying our porches. By the way, you cannot use catcrap for fertilizer because they are carnivores. You can get all sorts of nasty stuff if you eat veggies from a garden that has been crapped by over 50 cats.

    I have always been a catlover. I had my Carole-Louise for 21 years, Kelly for 17 years, mommakitty was approximately 18 when she was stomped by kids in the neighborhood. My dogs, Abby and Beulah were 14 and 7 when I had to have them put to sleep from Cancer. My pets have had better lives than lots of children and that is because they are my “fur-children”. It is hard to be portrayed as an animal abuser just because I want my family and my fur-children to be safe.

    Beulah was attacked in my front yard by an old stray tom-cat. He knocked her down several times and then came at me twice when I came to take him off of her. Until then, I hadn’t realized she was sick and had cancer.

    I believe that nature should run it’s course no matter how hard it is to watch. TNR is the answer for the ferals for sure, but as mentioned previously, if you feed them they breed and they lose the urge to hunt the food that is natural for them.

    I complained about the hoarding of the cats that have ruined my property, injured my elderly 1-eyed cat, and made it impossible for doing anything enjoyable outside.

    I tried garden cloth, rocks, stakes, coffee grounds, mothballs, and Boundry (can’t find it in Canada), to no avail. The cats tore up the cloth and netting, pushed the rocks out of the way, tore up edging, and dug up established flower beds including my rose bushes. So to those who say the catcrap shouldn’t bother you from having a veggie garden to eat from . . .come on over and take the crap home with you to fertilize your veggie gardens. We’ll see how well you like having worms, toxoplasmosis, or any number of illnesses you can get from that concentration of feces and urine. Oh and let’s not forget that you would then have the grand opportunity to contract hepatitis as well.

    I am not the bad guy here in Merritt and neither is the by-law officer … nor the rescue group nor the cats. It was not the cat’s choices to be dumped or otherwise neglected by their owners. It is the people who accepted the obligation to take a pet and then not be responsible for spaying or inoculation and then deserting them.

    Over 50 cats have been removed since the end of September by the SPCA. The feeding stations are not a good thing for the cats, ultimately. In December I had to bury 2 kittens approximately 4 months old that were hit by cars within 6 feet of the feeding station in the alleyway, not 100 feet from my backdoor. There were 4 sets of litters from early April to the last one at the end of September.

    But seriously, nobody can expect me to to be responsible for all these feral cats. I have to make a choice that is w/i my capabilities and is the best for my family. I have done this and in return, the fanatical fringe element of this rescue group has accused me of killing cats and have tried to have my pets removed. The only agenda I have is to see nature take her course with these cats as with any other wild animal.

  68. Avatar Sage Says:
    January 20th, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I think spaying and neutering has gotten outrageously in Canada. It is far moire expensive than it was when I was a kid. I remember I would catch local strays as a kid and spay/neuter them on my allowance. forget that now. The vet association seems like, well, is a big cartel.

    I use to be able to take in a stool sample from my pet to get worming meds, now I have to book an appointment for an exam to get a fricken worming pill, so I am opting to just go natural. I no longer neuter my male dogs. Vet care has become like dental in Canada, out of any reasonable control. I give huge props to the vet who made this site for standing up against them, and look what happened, he loses his license. The vet association is a cartel and obviously in merrit, and I am guessing many other instances and ways, they are pricing themselves out of business!


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM