The Maple Ridge branch of the SPCA and Katie’s Place are partnering together for low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for cats.
The program was made possible after the district committed $35,000 per year for the next three years to deal with the issue.
Katie’s Place, a registered charity, opened in 2001 and takes in mostly stray and feral cats with the hopes of finding them a home.
The spay and neuter program is open to Maple Ridge residents who can’t afford the normal price of a surgery.
The program will also target feral cats throughout neighbourhoods around Maple Ridge.
The SPCA and Katie’s Place hope to see 400 cats sterilized, as well as tattooed as permanent identification through the program.
Local veterinarians, including Alouette Animal Hospital, Dewdney Animal Hospital, EastRidge Animal Hospital and Maple Ridge Veterinarian Hospital, are taking part in the program.
“We are so excited that Maple Ridge continues to take preventative measures to keep cat overpopulation from getting out of control,” said Jennifer York, Maple Ridge SPCA branch manager.
“Identification by tattoo or microchip also gives us the ability to return a cat to his home more quickly, allowing us space to help more cats.”
York estimates the SPCA has more than 30 cats in its care, almost half of which are kittens.
She said overpopulation of cats in the area also stems from the fact that a kitten can have a litter by the time it is six moths old.
“Not a lot of people realize that. It’s important that people have their cat spayed or neutered early,” said York.
Tracey Bon, a volunteer at Katie’s Place, said she appreciates the District of Maple Ridge’s progressive approach to the issue.
Katie’s Place currently has more than 100 cats at the shelter and another 100 in care throughout Maple Ridge.
“Right now we are on the high-side. It’s kind of the perfect storm with a high number of surrenders this summer,” she said.
Maple Ridge has had a cat bylaw in place since 1999, mandating that all cats have identification and be spayed or neutered, unless owners have a cat-breeding permit.
Owners of cats who haven’t had them spayed or neutered have to keep them indoors.
York said the program is intended so that everyone in Maple Ridge has the opportunity to come into compliance with the bylaw.
Cat caregivers can get in touch with the BC SPCA at 604-463-9511 or Katie’s Place at 604-463-7917 to get more information, or stop by the Maple Ridge Community Animal Centre at 10235 Jackson Road.