Nfld. & Labrador

A purr-fect solution to a feral feline problem in Gaultois

Twenty-four feral cats took a ferry ride from Gaultois to Hermitage to get neutered — and the cats came back, the very next day.

South coast community has about 150 people and about 40 feral cats

The cats were neutered in Hermitage and returned to Gaultois and released. Town clerk Marcella Drover says the cats appear much happier now. (Nettie Hulme/Facebook)

A woman in Gaultois on Newfoundland's south coast has organized a program to have feral cats in the community neutered.

Town clerk Marcella Drover says the tiny community, which is accessible only by ferry from nearby Hermitage, has a population of about 150 people — and 40 feral cats.

She said the feral cats often hang out near the government wharf and "over on the point" in the community, and she's been aware of the high number of cats in the area for a while.

Drover has now arranged a trap-neuter-release program to have some of the cats brought to a vet in Hermitage and returned to Gaultois.

She said she's not sure where all the cats came from.

"People probably leave them outdoors, and of course they reproduce, and then they reproduce again, because we always see a litter of new kittens once or twice a year."

The feral cats took a ferry ride from Gaultois to Hermitage to get neutered — and the cats came back, the very next day. (Nettie Hulme/Facebook)

In mid-September, 24 cats were trapped and sent to Hermitage. Drover said it was a pretty involved process.

"We had to keep them overnight here in Gaultois. The next morning they had to be put on the ferry, and the ladies over there in Hermitage got our cats, took them to get them done," Drover said.

"The next day, they were brought back to Gaultois. We had to house them again for two days and then we released them in the spot that we caught them."

Some of the kittens that were brought to Hermitage were adopted or fostered, but Drover said 18 cats were returned to Gaultois.

We've got a lot of people here in Gaultois who do care about these cats.- Marcella Drover

She said the whole procedure cost $50 per cat, with the community holding a fundraiser to pay for it.

Drover said she looks after the cats that were released, heading down to the government wharf every other day to feed them, and she's noticed a difference in their behaviour. 

"It tames them down, it doesn't make them as feisty as what they were. I guess they're more comfortable," she said.

"It's a great program. I'm very glad that I'm involved."

Eighteen cats were returned to Gaultois after the trap, neuter, release program. (Nettie Hulme/CBC)

Despite the improvements, Drover said the work isn't done to have all the cats neutered. She said she's seen young kittens in the community just recently.

"The other day, I had come off the ferry, and when I went down on the wharf, we saw two little kittens, they must've just been born about two weeks ago," she said.

"We just found two, [but] we've got more being born over on the point, so it's going to become a bigger problem if this program doesn't continue."

Drover said the community wants to take good care of the animals.

"We've got a lot of people here in Gaultois who do care about these cats, they feed them, and yeah, they take care of them."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM

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