A kitty catastrophe! Fort St. John residents want a cat bylaw

Residents say cats are running amok in yards and households while the town's SPCA struggles to find homes for 30 emaciated kittens.

Public survey finds residents are ticked off at a swelling cat population

Fort St. John is desperate to find homes for cats while residents of the city complain they are running amok. (Winnipeg Humane Society)

Destructive and mischievous kitties have residents of Fort St. John concerned that more needs to be done to quell what's become a growing cat problem.

According to a public survey conducted by city staff, issues surrounding domestic and feral cats were identified as something the community wants addressed.

"People have concerns about cat's wandering, cats coming into gardens, into peoples homes, stray cats ... and cats that their owners might not be taking personal responsibility for," said acting mayor, Coun. Byron Stewart on CBC's BC Almanac.

Stewart says many of the complaints highlighted damages to property.

"They are not as trainable as other animals," he said. "This is something that people feel strongly about."

Stewart says the the city will continue to consult with the public to gather more in-depth information regarding the feline frustrations and begin researching solutions that could be mandated in a new bylaw.

Enforcing cat licensing, introducing a spaying/neutering clause or even imposing an indoor cat policy aren't off the table, according to the acting mayor.

Cat welfare a 'critical issue'

The town's kennels are currently over capacity with felines, according to BC SPCA officer Amy Morris.

"Our shelter only has room for 24 cats," she said, adding the SPCA does not euthanize cats for space.

SPCA kennels in Fort St. John are over capacity with cats and kittens. (CP Handout/Montreal SPCA/Anita Kapuscinska)

Morris says the facility is trying to find foster homes for 30 emaciated kittens — in addition to another 60 other cats on the waiting list.

"It's a really critical issue in Fort St. John," she said.

But the problem extends far beyond the city's borders.

"We experience this across the province — the cats are left to roam, they reproduce rapidly and with the change of climate, they'll go into three heats in one year. They'll have up to three litters and there's just not enough homes.

The B.C. SPCA currently offers low cost/no cost spay-and-neuter services throughout the province, particularly in response to cat overpopulation.

Click here to find out if there's a spay and neuter program near your community.

With files from B.C. Almanac

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Fort St. John residents want a cat bylaw