(Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian via AP file)

‘I can’t take them all with me’: Feral cats on N.L. island face uncertain future as humans relocate

Animal welfare groups involved in campaign to domesticate, find homes for some of the animals

Animal lovers in Newfoundland and Labrador are seeking help for dozens of feral cats facing an uncertain future as the humans in the small town where they prowl prepare to relocate.

Residents of Little Bay Islands have voted to resettle the community, and they have until the end of the year to move before electricity, maintenance and other government services are withdrawn.

Little Bay Islands, off Newfoundland’s northern coast, is one of many rural communities in the province faced with a dwindling population and difficult choices — the 2016 census recorded just 71 people living in the town.

As residents grapple with the prospect of leaving their homes behind, the question of what will happen to the feral felines remains.

Carol Hull, in the midst of planning her own move, said that as residents have moved away over the years, some have left their cats. Many of the animals had not been neutered, and Hull said this has produced a lasting population of “semi-feral” cats. She estimates there are between 35 and 40 living in the community.

Hull has been caring for some of the cats, feeding those that come by her property. She’s also rescued some kittens and tried to facilitate adoptions. But some of the cats are too wild to be adopted, she said, and time is running out before the human caretakers the cats have come to rely on are forced to leave.

“I can’t take them all with me,” Hull said by phone.

READ MORE: Nearly 60 feral cats caught in one B.C. neighbourhood

Animal welfare groups in other parts of Newfoundland have become involved in the campaign to domesticate and find homes for some of the animals. The Exploits Valley SPCA has started a social media campaign showcasing the 14 cats rescued from the community so far.

In a Facebook post earlier this month, the group highlighted the feral cat problem that isn’t unique to the small town, saying that rescue organizations across the province are “overwhelmed” and unable to make space for all the cats in need.

“There’s a cat problem in Newfoundland and Labrador (and) the entire world,” the Oct. 6 post read. “Little Bay Islands is no exception, but it poses a problem since it will soon be abandoned.” The group said in its post that some of the cats may starve if the population is left to continue growing on the island.

In following days, the SPCA posted photos of some of the 14 Little Bay Islands cats, most of them kittens, that have since been adopted. But the rest of the free-roaming felines have less certain futures.

Hull said she thinks the government relocation policy should involve some support for abandoned animals. But she worries that government involvement could mean the cats are just put down.

READ MORE: Money getting tight for Fraser Valley volunteer feral cat rescuers

Instead, she’s hoping for a bump in funding for animal welfare groups willing to take them in. Hull said as long as volunteers are willing to help her round up the cats, she’ll return as many times as it takes to secure their future.

“The main thing to us is (to avoid) the destruction of healthy animals,” she said.

“I’m willing to leave my new home, wherever, and come out here every day of the week as long as there’s a rescue group on that boat with me.”

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Talin Verigin elected SD 20 trustee

Verigin will represent rural Castlegar RDCK Areas I and J.

Castlegar autism workshop helps parents cope with wait times

Kootenay Family Place holding workshop Feb. 1

Columbia Basin Trust shuffles board, new leaders at the table

The Trust is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors

School District 8: No visiting Chinese students have coronavirus

SD8 says its international students have already been screened for the virus

Snow scenes around Castlegar

Our favourite reader submiltted photos.

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read