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Group looks to help control cat population

Masha Scheele

Cats may be cute and fluffy when they first become a pet, but when they’re not cared for properly, it can quickly become a problem.

The Hinton and District Spay and Neuter Society (HaDSaNS) takes in cats to neuter or spay them, and then returns them to either their old home, or a new adopted home.

“I think it’s very important because if we [don’t do this], they become pest animals. They become nuisance animals and people will want to harm them,” said Marla Ede, president of the association. 

HaDSaNS has seen everything from people poisoning cats, trapping and dumping them in the bush, to kill trapping, shooting, or running them over.

“It’s important because it can get out of hand very very quickly. One cat can have at least five kittens per litter, and two litters per year,” she explained.

At that rate, a clowder of five cats can multiply to fifty cats within a year, which is why HaDSaNS feels it’s important to stay on top of managing the cats in the community.

Over the last few years, they’ve seen a significant reduction of cats in areas where they’ve focused their attention. 

Nevertheless, there are always areas that are missed or cats that hide in the shadows.

“Even now, we’re trapping in Hillcrest Mobile Estates, which used to be Sunset, in an area where we have it almost cleaned out. But there’s this one mom who literally for years we’ve tried to trap and we can’t, so each time we just wait for her kittens to come out and right now we’re trying to trap several kittens in that area,” said Ede.

If HaDSaNS catches cats or families surrender their cats at a young age, it’s easier to get them rehomed. 

When cats are older and more skittish, they find barn homes or shop homes for them.

Often, cats come from areas where it’s not safe to return them, so they end up looking to be adopted by families. Before they are adopted, cats stay with foster families, as HaDSaNS doesn’t have a facility to keep them in.

“We’re 100 per cent volunteer run, foster home based and donation driven. We don’t have a facility, we rely solely on foster homes,” Ede explained.

“Sometimes cats sit with us for a while, depending on their needs. If they’re special needs, if they have medical issues or if they’re senior cats or even unfortunately adult cats are harder to adopt.”

There have also been times when multiple families are looking for adult cats and it has been harder to adopt out kittens.

Other than foster families, HaDSaNS also brings cats to Pet Value in town for adoption and larger organizations in the city.

“In a year, we usually do 250 cats from the Hinton area, Edson, not so much Jasper, Whitecourt area,” said Ede.

HaDSaNS has gone as far as Calgary, Red Deer, and Leduc to help out in their communities.

“We mainly deal with cats but we dealt with our first rabbits this year. We took in seven surrendered rabbits from a house that was not safe any more for them. The mom ended up being pregnant so we ended up with seven more rabbits,” she said.

They’ve also helped with a couple of dogs at the Edson Area Rescue Society (EARS), but it’s not something they’re set up for.

The busy season, which they refer to as kitten season, has become longer in the past few years as the weather has warmed up.

It usually runs from March to October and slows down in the winter.

Throughout the winter, they try to catch up on their fundraising as everything they do is through donations.

“We do a lot of events around town. We do bottle drives, we always try to make money through fundraising,” said Ede.

HaDSaNS also operates a low income cost sharing program to help families spay and neuter their pets to avoid bad situations.

“If you feel it’s too expensive, come and talk to us,” she said. “We can help you, we don’t judge, we don’t turn people away, even if we’re completely full, we try and help out one way or another.”

HaDSaNS is always looking for foster homes, and are hosting another adoption event on Aug. 17 at Grande Industrial Hinton Ltd.