Cat overpopulation problem persists

Carla Allen
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Organizations dedicated to assisting others look after stray cats by spaying or neutering them have made progress but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what remains to be done.

There is help for the hundreds of cats that have been dumped to fend for themselves, however more funding, more volunteers and municipal involvement is needed.

Operation Cat SNIP (Spay Neuter Is Priority) has spayed and neutered close to 70 cats since it began last spring. It is now a registered charity, continuing to address the mammoth problem of dumped and abandoned cats in the region.

Kathleen Fitzgerald, a director with the organization, says the problem is in part due to local shelters being at peak feline capacity and the lack of legal action against owners who abandon their pets.

“We, as a community, need to address this problem and do what we can to create some level of shame for people doing this. The only way is to continually shine a light on it and point out how wrong it is to just dump a domesticated animal and worse, their offspring, in the woods or on the side of the road to have them suffer what is usually a painful and horrible death. This is no Disney movie where the animals live happily every after.”

Education, enforcement and government participation is the solution, she adds.

Operation Cat SNIP works with existing owners and others who have taken it upon themselves to feed and care for cats that have been dumped in their neighbourhood.

Barbara Shaw Faulkner in Argyle has been taking care of 12 cats that were left to fend for themselves when their owner went into a nursing home. She’s trying to find homes for them.

“I’ve been feeding them for about two months,” she said.

For people like her, having these cats spayed or neutered can be an unaffordable expense.

Operation Cat SNIP is not yet in a position to assist all who apply for assistance. The board determines who it helps based on income and several other factors. In addition to the spaying or neutering all of the cats are tested for feline leukemia.

Funds donated to the organization go directly to the spaying and neutering of cats in this region.  The group has a Facebook page in its name. For more information on how to volunteer or donate, email:, or call: 902-742-6300.

Friends of TNR, founded by Jackie Dubois and now headed by Kendra MacIsaac, is a separate entity from Operation Cat SNIP but both are tackling the same problem.

The former helps with feral and abandoned cats. The latter helps cat owners and those looking after outdoor cats.

Dubois stresses the need for municipalities to become more involved to put an end to the “heartbreaking crisis.” She points to Cape Breton as an example.

It’s contributing $25,000 per year to TNR.

“My efforts with the Yarmouth municipal council were not successful in this matter back in 2010/2011,” she said.  

Trevor Cunningham was one of the councillors she contacted.

“I agree that the feral cat topic is an important one.  I heard concerns from a number of constituents, during my recent re-election campaign, about the importance of feral cat population control.  I will ask that this topic be revisited during the upcoming budget cycle,” he said when contacted about the issue.

Volunteers with Friends of TNR monitor and assist cats at wharves in Sandford, Pinkney's Point and the Dennis Point Wharf in Pubnico. Donations to this organization may be made at the Parade Street Animal Hospital, Red and White in Dayton and Pet Valu on Starrs Road. Raffles and other fundraisers are held to assist the organization.

To contact Friends of TNR email:

Organizations: Parade Street Animal Hospital, Pet Valu

Geographic location: Argyle, Cape Breton, Yarmouth Sandford Pubnico Dayton Starrs Road

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Recent comments

  • Paul
    December 06, 2012 - 17:07

    Why should WE as Taxpayers be held responsible to flip the bill to Fix these cats of UNRESPONSIBLE CAT OWNERS! HRM has over 35,000 stray cats! WANNA FIX THE PROBLEM????? PUT A BOUNTY ON THEM Same as any other PESTS PROBLEM SOLVED There should also be only 1 cat allowed per household or fines to pay .. Mabe then they can take all there fine $$$$$ to fix the ones that wernt Bountied. Simple solutions

    • Sonya
      December 22, 2012 - 00:14

      editor, please remove Paul's comment about putting a bounty on cats. What he is suggesting is illegal. Cruelty to domesticated animals is intolerable and punishable under NS law. Many animal rescuers are working together or independantly to solve the crisis created by irresponsible owners

    • cats
      December 22, 2012 - 00:23

      One cat per household?????? Do your research before you make such a stupid comment.

  • Lynne Ware
    December 06, 2012 - 09:25

    I agree that more needs to be done. In Lunenburg District, our group which is part of SHAID Tree Shelter Society, has fixed over 900 feral/stray cats since the summer of 2007. We have many large colonies that have stabilized and actually decreased in size since we started. In spite of all our efforts, the calls keep coming in asking for help. It doesn't seem like we are getting anywhere somedays. Then I have to remind myself of how many thousands more cats there would have been if we hadn't intervened.

  • Mary-Anne Boudreau
    December 05, 2012 - 14:06

    Thank you for this great article Carla. Congratulations to the Cat Snip gang for the wonderful work they are doing. Sadly we have a similar problem here in France, thankfully both my French rescued cats are safe, warm, loved and spayed and neutered.

  • katheen fitzgerald
    December 05, 2012 - 10:53

    We need to pressure local and provincial governments to fund this problem!