Calgary animal shelters overwhelmed with cats — and generosity

A Calgary animal rescue group says there is a crisis in cat overpopulation.

“Overpopulation is at the root of the cat crisis going on in Alberta. It does not take long for two cats to turn into 450 cats, unfortunately,” Rachael Finseth of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

“Cats can start reproducing at five months old, they can have up to eight kittens in a litter and two or three litters a year. They expand exponentially.”

Finseth is talking about a 450-cat colony recently found in a rural area near Calgary.

That discovery has ARF bursting at the seams. It is housing about 300 cats, with 75 ready for adoption and up to 10 cats becoming available every single day, she said. About 90 per cent of the animals are currently in foster homes.

ARF’s small shelter is in northeast Calgary, but many of the cats that ARF works with are from rural communities.

“Foster homes can help with socialization, they can support them medically, and really be caring for them until they are adopted or moved to our adoption centre,” Finseth explained.

These beautiful creatures are available for adoption at the Animal Rescue Foundation in Calgary. (Submitted by Rachael Finseth of Animal Rescue Foundation)

The situation is so serious that other shelters have offered a hand, as often happens.

“We actually reached out to ARF and offered help, to take some of the cats off their hands,” said Ciara Healy of the Calgary Humane Society in an interview Wednesday.

Healy said a tsunami of support following a recent social media callout for help — when the shelter was maxed out — really warmed her heart.

Couldn’t keep up with offers of help

“The power of the internet took over for this one. We had a huge amount of people see the post. We actually had to take it down because we couldn’t keep up with the amount of people contacting us,” Healy said.

Record numbers of people came forward.

“We have over 300 foster families that joined our program. We had 36 dogs adopted in three weeks, which is absolutely amazing. Usually we only have about six per week,” Healy said.

“Calgary is amazing when you need some help.”

These two kittens are at the Animal Rescue Foundation in Calgary, hoping to find forever homes. (Submitted by Rachael Finseth of Animal Rescue Foundation)

And Finseth is on the same page.

“Fortunately, Calgarians have been really amazing in their food donations. But it’s hard to keep up. We go through about 1,400 kilograms of wet food and 600 kilograms of dry food every month,” she said.

“We always find homes for our cats. Sometimes it takes a while. We are a no-kill animal rescue organization. Once the cats are with us, we do everything we can for them, and they can stay with us as long as they need to before they find their forever home.”

Other ways to help

Healy says the Calgary Humane Society has 54 cats in its care, with 10 ready for adoption, along with 22 dogs — seven which are ready to head home with someone.

“Even if people can’t adopt, there are many ways they can help by donating time, becoming a volunteer or foster parent, donating money, or even just spreading the word.” 

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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