TinyKittens.com is mapping feral colonies around Langley as part of its spay and neuter work.

Langley group rounding up feral cats for sterilization

A local animal welfare non-profit has about 16 volunteers ready to work this weekend.

The public checks out TinyKittens.com to see the non-profit socialize cats to hopefully find them homes.

Now people can watch the webstreaming site to see surgeries on its Fix-a-thon Oct. 15 and 16. (Go to TinyKittens.com/fixathon.)

“We are hoping to spay and neuter at least 20 cats over the weekend, and then do the remaining cats over the next few weeks,” said TinyKittens founder Shelly Roche.

The cats are part of a feral colony in east Langley. About 16 volunteers over two days will try to fix them.

“We always hope to socialize and adopt out any cats we can, but those that aren’t receptive to life with humans will be happiest returning to their property,” Roche said.

The property owner has agreed to care for those cats after their return, and the cats will continue to keep the rodent population managed.

“We currently have eight kittens in our care, all of whom will be adopted out when they are healthy,” she said.

Mountain View Veterinary Hospital and Dr. Renee Ferugson are donating their efforts but the endeavour is not cheap. Typically, a feral spay/neuter cost around $100 to $125.

The costs rise if the cat needs additional care or medications.

Many feral kittens have ringworm, which takes a minimum of six weeks to treat, and requires very expensive medication, multiple baths, and multiple tests which are expensive, Roche added.

“The kittens we have currently in our care are positive for ringworm, which is a fungus, not a worm, so they will cost at least $600 each,” she explained.

The funds to do this work is 100 per cent from donations, and “we all volunteer our time so the full donations go directly to help the cats.”

“We can always use donations to help with vet expenses and trapping/sheltering supplies,” she said.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies estimates that Langley has about 22,000 feral cats but most people wouldn’t know it.

“Feral cats are incredibly skilled at being invisible, and are generally only active at night,” Roche said. “…We had a concerned resident contact us thinking there were 10 to 20 cats in one area, and when we went in to help, we found there were more than 200 cats living there. It’s mind boggling, and most people don’t even know it’s happening right under their noses.”

And feral and wild-living cats have much shorter lifespans than domesticated pet cats. Only 25 per cent of feral kittens survive due to disease, injury, predators and cruelty, Roche said.

“The best way to help Langley’s cats and prevent their needless suffering is to spay and neuter,” she said.

The plan involves raccoon traps and bait, and Tiny Kittens is looking for help to pay for medical supplies, drugs, vaccines and equipment. They spotted one cat on the property that is missing an eyeball, and are hoping they’ll be able to clean that up for him.

Roche started fostering kittens when she moved to Langley in 2012, and eventually set up a 24/7 webcam (tinykittens.com) that has drawn a global audience to the kitten antics. She formally established Tiny Kittens as a non-profit to help feral cats in March of 2015, and currently has 15 kittens looking for homes. The adult cats are fixed and returned to the wild because they generally aren’t accustomed to humans.

Female cats are given time to recover before returning to the wild, she said.

“We will take it case by case. The boys generally recover pretty quickly – except for their pride.”

– With files from the Vancouver Sun

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