Cat rescue overwhelmed by influx of felines temporarily shuts down
'If you've ever thought of fostering, now is the time,' says head of Mission's Cat Therapy and Rescue Society
A cat rescue in Mission, B.C., says it was forced last week to close its doors to new cats because of an influx of felines that need help.
Cat Therapy and Rescue Society closed on Sunday, stretched to its maximum capacity with 300 cats in care. Executive director Melina Csontos says her group is desperately looking for people to adopt or foster their cats.
"This year has been exceptionally bad because it's kind of just happened in one large wave. Within a matter of a week, we had to move over 100 cats out of foster homes and kind of shuffle them around," said Csontos.
Cats who don't get the care they need can end up severely abused or killed, she said.
"Cats will get hit by cars, poisoned, shot, people will euthanize them."
Some of the cats are being returned because, with pandemic restrictions easing, host families are travelling or returning to work offices.
The society says 10 to 15 cats a week have been surrendered as the rules ease.
The rescue, which receives nearly 2,000 cats yearly, has no space due to the sudden backlog. They never euthanize cats, and adoption has been dwindling recently.
The rescue service is also a foster-based rescue, which means they don't have one physical shelter to safely host the cats.
'We've never had to say no'
Out of desperation, Csontos is fostering cats in a small room in her house.
"I don't want to say no," she said. " We've never had to say no."
However, Csontos says, before families consider taking in a pet, they should be confident they have the capacity and ability, just as they would for a child.
Before Abbotsford resident Michelle O'Doherty adopted two rescue cats during the pandemic, she knew it was going to be a long-term commitment.
"You can't just take them for fun. You can't just bring them home and expect your kids are going to look after them. It's going to be your responsibility," O'Doherty said.
O'Doherty is considering adopting another cat after seeing the need for adoption — and developing a soft-spot for her cats.
"They're lovely. But I do think it's partly a social responsibility to take care of these little cats that don't have homes or anywhere to go."
While Csontos has seen pet returns increase, the B.C. SPCA has seen the opposite: a five per cent return rate for adoption, which is considered low.
"We're very happy that we are not seeing animals return when people's lives get back to a new normal," says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications at the SPCA.
Csontos says the need for people to foster a cat is greater than it's ever been before.
The society says if families can foster now for a minimum of two weeks, it will free up space for other cats in need of medication.
"If you've ever thought of fostering, now is the time. Please, foster," Csontos said.
Applications for fostering can be submitted on their website.