Orillia’s Comfie Cat Shelter is overwhelmed with about 80 kittens in need of homes.
Shelter manager and founder Barb MacLeod says the situation is “out of control” and she puts the blame on veterinarians for not offering low-cost spay and neuter clinics.
“Everybody is throwing out their females or letting them roam,” MacLeod said. “They are ending up here.”
The shelter recently received an email from someone in England who was looking to surrender five kittens.
“The average cost (for spay and neuter clinics) is $700,” MacLeod said. “We have no low-cost spay and neuter clinics in Orillia at all and there are only a couple of reasonably priced clinics in Barrie.”
Even the fair-priced Barrie clinics are seeing a massive backlog, MacLeod says.
“Not everybody has the ways and means to get to Barrie,” she said. “Even if they do, a lot of people don’t have the money.”
She says the issue is beyond local; it extends around the globe. She noted rising inflation has added to the crunch.
“It’s pretty sad,” she said. “People like to blame it all on COVID, but this has been going on for a long time.”
MacLeod says there is a long wait list of people hoping to surrender litters of kittens to the shelter.
Dr. Alan Poon, part owner of Mariposa Veterinary Hospital, says the overpopulation of cats and kittens has been a concern in the Simcoe County area since before the pandemic.
“There has historically been a six- to 12-month wait period for spay and neuter for dogs and cats,” he said. “The factor of COVID and people going back to work has added an extra strain on the high volume and low-cost clinics that are offering spay and neuters.”
While Poon says Mariposa Veterinary Hospital has reached out to help the Comfie Cat Shelter, he doesn’t believe his facility is able to offer the services the shelter requires.
“We are helping with more patient-centred care,” he said. “I think they are looking for more high-volume, conveyor-belt-style, in-and-out type of things that can keep costs down.”
Poon says every pet owner can play a role in preventing local shelters from becoming overloaded.
“Keeping cats indoors would ideally be the best option,” he said. “The Ohio State University has the indoor pet initiative, which helps people understand cat behaviours, and it can help relieve the stress of keeping indoor cats.”
For those who have the ability to give a kitten a good home and can manage the spay and neuter fees, adoption application forms can be found on the shelter’s website.
The shelter is located at 112 Norweld Dr.