Groups that work with animals across the country are conducting a cat census to raise awareness about the issue of feline overpopulation.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is organizing the national cat count, which will involve 23 New Brunswick organizations.

Barb Cartwright, the national federation’s president and chief executive officer, said it is important to get an accurate assessment of how many cats are in the country.

"The research is going to look at the numbers, hard data as well as case studies, to see what has been effective and what hasn't been effective," Cartwright said in an interview from Ottawa.

The report is expected to come by the end of this year.

Some New Brunswick organizations, such as the SPCA and veterinarians, have tried to keep track of how many cats they’ve spayed and neutered.

In five years, the Fredericton branch of Cat-Rescue-Maritimes, has spayed and neutered 2,600 feral cats.

The rescue league does not shelter cats but it traps, neuters and then returns them to their colonies.

Shawna Lowenberg, who works with the rescue organization, said cats can multiply very quickly if they are not spayed or neutered.

"They find the first barn they come to, they drop the cat off and she has her babies and by the spring of the next year all her babies are having babies," Lowenberg said.

Sue Knight, who also works with the rescue organization, said she hopes the survey will bring hard data and more government funding to organizations that work with animals.

"I hope it will highlight to governments the problem there, that they will help to put in place programs that allow as many cats to get neutered and spayed as possible," she said.

"It is a losing battle right now."

Meanwhile, the Fredericton SPCA does shelter animals but it has already reached its capacity for cats.

Annette James said the SPCA would like the cat count to show people how significant an issue this is in the province.

"I'm hoping it brings public awareness that this is a huge issue: overpopulation," he said.