The year Muffy Jones knew she needed to get involved, hundreds of cats were being euthanized by the municipal animal pound. Some were injured or sick, others were feral, but a lot of them just had nowhere to go.
She was horrified at the number of healthy cats being put down, so she founded the Cat’s Meow Society in 1998 with four friends.
Their mission was two fold: first to re-home cats that had been given up, and second, to financially help people spay and neuter their pets.
“I estimate 70 per cent of the problem is people not being able to afford to spay or neuter their cats,” Jones said.
Cats are drastically fertile. One female can have up to 200 kittens in her lifetime, and with favourable weather, she can have three litters in a season.
If an unfixed cat is ‘set free’ instead of being re-homed, it will either get eaten or reproduce prolifically, which is how there are colonies of feral cats all over northern Vancouver Island, especially in unincorporated communities without animal control.
The Cat’s Meow, through donations and grants from the SPCA, contributes $50 to $100 plus 25 per cent off the cost of having a cat fixed. And they have an arrangement with the pound so that before any healthy cat is put down, the Cat’s Meow gets a chance to find it a new home.
In 1998, Port Hardy euthanized 280 cats. Last year, just 23 cats were put down, and all of them were terminally injured or ill. Yet each week brings more calls.
“Yesterday, I got a call at work, ‘Could you come out to the industrial site? There’s a cat that’s really sick.’ ” The cat had been trapped in an abandoned trailer, and did not survive.
“Just think about that cat in there for the last few days, starving. I just…” Jones’ voice is full of emotion even after two decades of cat stories.
The week prior, it was two strays wandering around an unincorporated community.
“Somebody was running a pub there, and because of COVID they locked up the pub, didn’t pay the rent, and left these two beautiful cats that have been wandering around the community,” Jones said. She got the caller to take them in to the animal clinic in Port McNeill, and within the week both cats had been adopted.
“[In Port Hardy] we have a pound, so there is no reason for anyone to drop some cat off up a logging road. It’s free of charge. But in places like Woss, they have no one to call.”
The Cat’s Meow Society is starting to work with some regional district councillors to develop animal control in the unincorporated areas of the north Island.
The Cat’s Meow Society can be best reached through their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/catsmeowporthardy/
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