Several weeks ago, a strange noise came from a strange place in rural Delta.
Staffers from the Delta Community Animal Shelter (DCAS) were trapping feral cats for their trap-neuter-release (TNR) program when they heard meowing coming from the inside of an old-fashioned metal milk jug.
When one of them had a look inside, a wild cat jumped out, narrowly missing the face of the curious human, and disappeared.
At the bottom of the basin were six helpless kittens.
Taken to the shelter, they were nursed by a cat named Floria before they were happily adopted out.
“She had babies herself, and they had just weaned, so we were lucky,” says shelter manager Sarah Jones. “She’s just lovely.”
Leave it to further serendipity to have the eye of an annual hurricane – no kittens at the shelter – on the first anniversary of the day the staff moved into the new Delta Community Animal Shelter in Tilbury Industrial Park.
It’s an anomaly, says Jones.
“It’s going to change any minute.”
UPDATE: As of May 26, the shelter has four nursing moms and 30 kittens.
Every year, she explains, in the spring and summer, there are two waves of cat breeding by un-fixed cats that keeps shelters swamped with critters needing help and adoption.
“During the summer months we have anywhere from 50-90 cats in the shelter.”
It’s also the season she wants to drive home the message of responsible pet ownership.
Photo at left: Pandora.
Spaying and neutering isn’t just good for population control, but improves the health and behaviour of cats.
She gives examples: Neutered male cats who go outside are less likely to get into fights, and less likely to contract diseases related to fighting.
Spaying female cats before their first heat cycle also makes later surgery less complicated, and reduces long-term stress for the cat.
“That howling cat that you hear at night, it’s usually a girl (seeking a mate),” says Jones.
Fixed cats are also provided with permanent IDs so they can be easily returned to their owners (cat return rates are about 10 per cent, while it’s 95 per cent for dogs.)
For those seeking cats, the DCAS makes adoption easy with a colour-coded matching system.
Adult cats brought into the shelter are tested for their “felineality” (their feline personality) and given a place on a colour chart based on how valiant, independent and social they are (including with other animals and kids).
A purple “private investigator,” for example, is shy and often just keeps humans under surveillance; an orange “sidekick” is just plain good company; and green “party animal” loves to play, and will make a toy out of anything.
Potential adopters are asked about their household (Is it a library? A carnival?), how they feel about having their ankles chased, or how much they want to hold their cat.
Talking to potential adopters and using the matchmaking program makes for a more interactive evaluation process rather than just filling out forms, says Jones.
“It helps us a lot and reduces returns, because we know what you’re expecting, and we know what you want to match for your lifestyle.
“It’s also fun. It’s exciting when you’re adopting a cat.”
The Delta Community Animal Shelter is located at 7505 Hopcott Rd. The shelter is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and weekends from 12-4 p.m. Adoption viewing hours are weekdays from 12-5 p.m. and weekends from 12-4 p.m. Animals available for adoptions are viewable online.
For more information, call 604-940-7111, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.delta.ca/services/animal-shelter/overview