Dozens of feral adult cats were trapped, spayed or neutered and will be returned to their colonies outside the city as part of the Edmonton Humane Society’s first solo clinic of its kind.
Three colonies with a combined total of about 50 feral cats were humanely trapped over 24 hours on Wednesday and brought to the EHS facility in northwest Edmonton.
“Working on a large-scale spay and neuter like this is more effective than one-offs,” said Liza Sunley, CEO of the Edmonton Humane Society.
The animals were spayed and neutered at the trap-neuter-return clinic on Thursday — where the cats were also vaccinated, treated for parasites and provided with permanent identification.
They will be returned to their colonies on Friday.
“”We will return the cats 24 hours after surgery, so it’s a three-day event for us,” said shelter veterinarian Michelle Meckelborg.
Feral cats, unlike companion house cats, have little to no contact with humans and are not socialized to be around or trust people, the society explained. They can’t be adopted out after being fixed. The feral cats are bonded to their colony members and survive best on their own outdoors.
“They don’t make great companion animals in a home,” explained Meckelborg.
“This tends to be a really humane way of providing medical care and location management to a cat that doesn’t want to be a human’s best friend.”
Kittens can be socialized and tamed, however, so any young cats found in the colonies will remain in the care of EHS and eventually be placed up for adoption.
Trap-neuter-return — also known as TNR — is a humane way to manage the population of feral cat colonies, allowing the animals to continue living in their outdoor home while dealing with over-population and other concerns.
“While people understand the importance of spay and neuter, it can be overwhelming when you are dealing with an entire colony of cats,” said Sunley.
A female cat can have about 12 kittens a year and if those cats are then not fixed, in about eight years those offspring can account for more than two million cats.
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“Through these clinics, we can support communities experiencing feral cat overpopulation and make it possible to facilitate their humane and safe care,” Sunley said.
While looking after 50 cats barely scratches the surface of the issue, projects like this are a big operation and costly.
“This clinic will likely run from about $5,000 to $6,000 depending on if we have to provide advanced care on any of the cat,” Meckelborg said.
This is EHS’ first solo large-scale TNR clinic to take place at the shelter.
“While feral cats do not thrive in a shelter or home, it’s important that we ensure their welfare and ability to live safely in the outdoor environment where they are most comfortable, in coexistence with their surrounding community,” Sunley said.