Edmonton

Frustrations over strays may have led to cat killed by arrow, rescue agency manager says

The gruesome discovery of a tabby cat killed by an arrow in a Hinton trailer park came as no surprise to Rebecca Longmire.

'This is the unfortunate thing that happens when people become frustrated'

Hundreds of cats like this one have been rehomed by the Hinton & District Spay and Neuter Society. (Hinton & District Spay and Neuter Society )

The gruesome discovery of a brown tabby cat killed by an arrow in a Hinton trailer park may be the result of growing frustration in the community over strays.

Marla Ede, president and founder of the Hinton & District Spay and Neuter Society, says some members of the community are fed up with feral cats — and this isn't the first time things have turned ugly.

For years, people in the community have been abusing cats in an attempt to rid the area of strays, she said.  

"I was very angry but I was not surprised," Ede said. "This is not the first time we've seen a cat purposely injured. 

"They have shot them with BB guns or other small rifles, we've seen cats purposely run over, we've found cats poisoned."

Ede said there have been reports about cats being trapped illegally and then used for fish bait or dumped in the woods. 

Some people feel that the only way to deal with the stray cat population in town is to kill them."- Rebecca Longmire

RCMP launched an investigation after the cat killed by the arrow was discovered dead in a driveway in the Hillcrest Mobile Estates trailer park Wednesday afternoon.

The arrow had entered the cat's hindquarters, near the spine, emerging at the base of its neck.

"It's upsetting," said Rebecca Longmire, the cat intake manager and treasurer with the rescue agency. "Some people feel that the only way to deal with the stray cat population in town is to kill them." 

Longmire said the brown tabby appeared well-cared for. She believes it was someone's pet. 

"This is the unfortunate thing that happens when people become frustrated with the strays and the ferals," she said. 

Officials with the Hinton & District Spay and Neuter Society say some members of the community have become frustrated with feral cats. (Hinton & District Spay and Neuter Society)

RCMP Const. Matthew Thurston said police are working through some leads related to the arrow slaying that have come in from the public. But the investigation remains in the preliminary stages.  

He said it's unclear if that animal was a stray. No owners have been identified.

In his six years with Hinton RCMP, Thurston said he has never heard of any similar cases of cats being killed or maimed. 

However, there are lots of rumours circulating in the community about other incidents, he said. Thurston is urging anyone with information to contact RCMP. 

"Right now, it's rumours and chatter. I'm going to have to sift through those truths and half truths and figure it out." 

'It's a human problem'

Hinton bylaws state pets of any kind  are not allowed to roam at large. But Ede — a former animal control officer with the town — said the city has a large population of feral cats.

Her agency was founded in 2015 specifically to deal with a number of cat colonies that had cropped up across the west-central Alberta town.

In the first year of the organization's operations, 120 cats were removed from one street in the Hillcrest area. Ede estimates there were probably about 500 feral cats in the trailer park. 

The volunteer-run agency traps, neuters and releases feral cats, while finding new homes for any kittens or juveniles that are considered tame enough for adoption.

While the agency has shrunk the stray population, the program requires patience, persistence and steady donations to pay for sterilization procedures, Ede said.

In the meantime, she said irresponsible pet owners contribute to the problem by failing to spay and neuter their pets or by abandoning them on the street. 

Cats are seen as disposable, Ede said.

"They blame the cats, but really, it's a human problem." 

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon

Journalist

Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca