Canadian Cat Advocates Gear Up for “Year of the Cat”


The Vietnamese calendar marks 2011 as the Year of the Cat, and Canadian cat welfare advocates are using the occasion to raise awareness of the problems facing cats.

Care for Cats,a group of organizations in all of the country’s provinces, is collaborating for a nationwide campaign to inform the public about feline issues.

The initiative was started by Hamilton, Ontario, feline practitioner Elizabeth OBrien. It seeks to deliver its message through events and theme months.

In the maritime province of Prince Edward Island, veterinarian Anne Marie Carey of the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) in Charlottetown works with spay and neuter programs across the island to combat cat overpopulation. She has also been providing OBrien with information from her research.

Carey said that while her spay/neuter campaign has improved cat welfare on the Island, raising awareness is really the best way to deal with the issue. There is one the thing that fixes cat overpopulation problems and thats public education. Thats something we havent targeted as much in the past.

Care for Cats is planning three nationwide theme events in May, September and December, and Carey is currently working on plans to host her own public education events at the AVC.

For now, she continues to work with Island groups like the Cat Action Team, a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to helping the stray, feral and barn cats of Prince Edward Island, to improve the methods of controlling the feral cat population.

Theres a lot of arguments about what the best solutions really are, said Carey. I still stand by the trap, neuter and return method (TNR) where the cats are humanely trapped, neutered and then returned to where they were found.

While it takes a lot of resources and is very labor intensive, its certainly a lot better from a public perspective and from a welfare perspective than things like trap and kill programs. I dont like those.

The Cat Action Team has coordinated the campaigns to neuter the stray cats by collecting them, bringing them to clinics like the AVC and returning them to their colonies after a day of recovery.

And now, with Carey’s help, the AVC is working harder to assist with coordinating and educating the volunteers.

Meghan Solc, a third-year veterinary student, has been hired as the TNR coordinator for the AVC and is becoming more involved in the organizing and collecting of the cats and following up on the cats after they have been returned.

Shes actually contacting people who own the barns or look after the colonies the cats came from to see if theres been any issues with them post-operatively, said Carey.

Weve had very few problems. Part of it, Im sure, is attributed to the amount of monitoring that we do and the way that we do our procedures.

[Source: The Guardian-Prince Edward Island]

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