British Columbia

Crowded with cats, Lower Mainland animal shelters are looking for forever feline families

Last year, animal shelters across B.C. were inundated with requests for pandemic pets. Now, the tables have turned.

Delta shelter has 30% more cats and kittens in need of homes than past years, likely due to fewer adopters

A kitten in a cage stares at the camera. Another kitten is in the background, out of focus.
The manager of the Delta Community Animal Shelter says the number of cats and kittens at the shelter right now is unusually high and the situation is similar at other shelters across the Lower Mainland. (Shutterstock / Okssi)

New pets have been a popular pandemic purchase in B.C. but it appears furry friends may no longer be in such high demand, with at least one Lower Mainland animal shelter currently crowded with cats.

According to Ryan Voutilainen, manager of the Delta Community Animal Shelter, the facility is responsible for about 32 cats and kittens at present — a number he says is about 30 per cent higher than staff usually see at this time of year.

Voutilainen says shelters in nearby New Westminster and Surrey are experiencing a similarly higher than usual influx of felines.

He said the large number of cats needing homes right now is not necessarily due to people returning pets purchased during the pandemic, but instead because fewer people are looking to adopt.

Barbara Cartwright, the head of Humane Canada, which represents humane societies, SPCAs and animal rescue organizations across the country, said at the end of the summer they were not seeing any notable difference in the numbers of pet surrenders among their members.

Voutilainen said the majority of cats at the shelter now are primarily a consequence of having too many cats in the community who have not been spayed or neutered.

"We had a long stretch of warm, sunny weather so cats were out doing what they do and, unfortunately, that has resulted in an influx of kittens not only in Delta, but across the Lower Mainland and I know in other parts of the province as well," said Voutilainen, speaking Friday on CBC's The Early Edition.

He said anyone interested in adopting a cat or kitten in need, should visit the shelter's website to fill out an application.

Elsewhere in Canada, the Regina Humane Society has seen an increase in cats coming into its shelter and lowered its fees to encourage people to adopt.

Animal rescue organizations in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Alta., and Sudbury, Ont., have also told CBC they're worried about high numbers of animals being surrendered to shelters.

With files from The Early Edition