Quadra Island has a history of feral cats, but a local program, Quadra Cat Rescue, has been making progress to keep the population in check.
The group attends to many animals each year, as there still is a need to assist colonies of feral and semi-feral cats.
“I think what surprises us is the fact that after all these years, we’re still finding these colonies,” volunteer Valerie van Veen said.
While they make progress every year, she expects demand for the group’s services will continue for the foreseeable future.
“We would like to work ourselves out of a job, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said.
In 2017, the group spayed or neutered 28 cats. Volunteers also made eight trips to bring a total of 52 kittens to the Pacific Cat Clinic in Victoria for adoption, the majority of which came from a single property on the island.
Van Veen credits the community for helping the group to continue its efforts.
“We’re really happy at the support that the Quadra community has given us,” she said.
For example, earlier this year, the group received a $1,500 grant-in-aid from the Strathcona Regional District. Van Veen also points to community donations and a retail store point program as other ways people in the community help generate funds for the volunteer service.
“That participation has really increased, and we’re really pleased to see that,” she said.
A key part of community cooperation is communication, and the group has found that residents with feral or semi-feral cat colonies on their property are getting in touch with Quadra Cat Rescue about the animals.
“We certainly appreciate being advised of these colonies,” she said.
According to its website, Quadra Cat Rescue runs a step-by-step program to attend to feral and semi-feral cat populations around the island. This includes trapping, spaying or neutering, returning some to their environment or providing necessary vet care.
Adoption, where possible, is also part of the program, and last year they adopted out 12 cats or kittens. The volunteers also provide food for the cat colonies. For example, they arranged for food, maintenance and veterinarian care for two un-adoptable cats last year and fed 20 cats in a half-dozen feral or semi-feral colonies.
They also try to take in semi-feral kittens as soon as they are old enough to be weaned in order to be fixed and domesticated.
“They usually make excellent pets,” she said, adding the group works with veterinarians in Campbell River to check the animals. “We do make sure that the kittens we take in from any colony are in good health.”
The group also helps low-income cat owners by bringing them to Campbell River for vet visits, and by bringing in several animals at one time, they can offer the owner a lower rate.
“We’re able to help them as much as we can financially,” she said. “We work out an arrangement with each pet owner.”
The problem with feral cats goes back to the early days, van Veen adds, when the animals were brought in to control rodents, though this history was only something she discovered once she began working with Quadra Cat Rescue.
“Quadra has had a very long history of having feral cats, as in barn cats and mining camp cats and logging camp cats,” she said. “We’re still dealing with the fallout from those cats.”