July 6th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 27
Residents get catty over strays cats around the Pass
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stray Cats
Pass Herald Reporter
As far as the municipality is concerned, stray and feral cats do not exist.
The town’s animal control bylaw does not include any mention of cats, feral or stray.

The bylaw has been in effect since before the current council came to power. Into void have stepped private citizens tackling the cat problem on their own with approaches that range from well intentioned to villainous.

Like a catcher in the rye for felines, Crowsnest resident Ray Cairns said he’s been feeding and housing about 14 strays for a number of months.
He’s even gone so far as to build a large box lined with insulating foam to house his pets. He said its been sheltering felines since he deposited it on his back porch in October 2015.

Cairns said he’s got seven cats living with him and his wife in their Coleman home with about another seven living in his yard. He estimated that he spends around $300 a month on cat food.

“Animals have rights, even feral and stray cats, I believe,” he said. “I’d like to see the animals get a fair shake no matter who they belong to.”
However, the Hillcrest SPCA is not happy with Cairns.

“His heart is in the right place,” said a Hillcrest SPCA representative who asked not to be identified. “But he’s feeding them and bringing them together so they can breed. What he’s doing is creating his own problem in his own backyard for his neighbours.”
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The problem with cats is they’ll reproduce very quickly if left to their own devices. One unsterilized female cat can produce 25 kittens per year.

The Hillcrest SPCA representative said the Pass has a problem with both feral and stray cats and explained the difference between the two. While a feral cat was born in the wild and depends on its own resources to survive, a stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned.

Despite her protestations of Cairns’ housing and feeding the animals, the Hillcrest SPCA is refusing to accept any stray or feral cats. The representative said the shelter is over capacity.

“It’s not a problem that’s easily solved or cheap to solve,” she said. “There’s only one shelter here. We have a limit and right now we’re over our maximum.”

While Cairns has taken a friendly approach to cats, other residents haven’t been so generous. In February a Coleman resident was investigated for allegedly trapping stray cats and removing them to a different location. A report on the alleged incident was sent to Alberta SPCA investigators on Feb. 11, 2016. No charges were laid.
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“We received a call about the situation,” said Roland Lines, communications manager for the Alberta SPCA. “Provincial privacy legislation prevents me from giving out details on any case – unless it is presented as evidence in court – but in general terms, I can confirm that it is illegal to trap cats and release them to a different location.”

Lines speculated that Crowsnest residents would continue to have problems with cats so long as they are not covered by municipal bylaws.
The municipality is slowly taking steps to address the problem.

In a speech to council last month, Steve Debienne, Fire Chief/manager of Protective Services, presented two options to manage the community’s stray and feral cats.

One would be to capture, spay or neuter the cat and then release it. The other would be to capture and euthanize the animal.
July 6th ~ Vol. 85 No. 27
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