Sask Alley Cats helps Prince Albert exhibition

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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Where there are wild kittens, you might find the Sask Alley Cats Association.

Although they were there as part of the trade show, the Sask Alley Cats quickly jumped into action when they were told about some feral kittens living in the Prince Albert Exhibition barns.

Not only are there six adult cats roaming the barns for rodents, one of the female cats also had a litter of five kittens that were about five weeks old.

“They are little younger than I’d like them to be away from mom but sometimes due to circumstances you have to scoop them up,” said Dolores LaPlante of Sask Alley Cats. “They are going to go into foster care -- it will be a surprise to one of my foster homes.”

LaPlante scooped up the five kittens easily with the help of a couple volunteers and put them into a kennel. She is hoping to get the adult cats on the grounds neutered and spayed this fall as well.

“To catch those six cats, we will be able to start trapping as soon as we get sponsors,” LaPlante said. “Anyone who wants to donate specifically to the barn program to get those cats here fixed, we’d appreciate anyone pitching in for that.

“That is our goal now this fall, before anymore babies are born, if we could get all those moms and dads there neutered,” she added. “I think the grounds here would appreciate it.”

When they catch the cats, it will cost about $100 to process each cat, which includes blood tests for AIDS and leukemia, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, a tattoo and taking care of any medical issues the cats may have.

“If there is six adult cats in the barn there that means we will have to raise $600-700 to get them all fixed, but I think that is a good investment,” LaPlante said. “You need mousers out there instead of putting out poisons.

“Once they are fixed, that is the end of it -- you have good mousers and you don’t have any (kittens),” she added. “Whether you come to our place or the SPCA, there are just so many cats who don’t have homes.”

She said there are far too many stray cats in communities across Saskatchewan.

“We have been getting a lot of cats from La Ronge, just a lot of abandoned pets and strays that people have thrown away,” LaPlante said. “It has been a very busy summer and winter.”

All of the cats they will catch and neuter at the Exhibition Grounds will get a tattoo in its ear, to show they have been spayed or neutered.

Sask Alley Cats is a no-kill organization and most of their cats are in foster homes.

“A lot of other (organizations) do a band aid reaction, almost pest control,” LaPlante said, explaining the differences between shelters. “You bring a cat in and they either euthanize it or rehome it.

“We are trying to not only deal with the cats that are out there needed help, but also trying to get more involved in preventing cats from being born so we don’t have to help them later,” she added.

Not only do they have spay and neuter programs in the cities and towns for their program, they will also help farmers with their barn cats.

“Some cities have programs where they might spay and neuter low income people’s animals in town, but they not dealing with rural folk that are producing a lot of the kittens given away for free in the Co-op or on Kijiji,” LaPlante said. “We have to deal with that population as much as anybody else too.”

Since spaying and neutering cats is not a cheap venture, many farmers don’t want to make a $300-400 investment on a cat that “might be eaten by a coyote two years from now.”

“By spaying all these adult cats, you have good mousers but no more kittens that need rescuing later,” LaPlante said.

They will offer farmers a deal, that they will take the “free” kittens, find them a home and then spay the mother cat for a reduced rate of $100.

They do not have a program to send cats out to farms though, unlike the barn buddies program that the SPCA offers.

“We don’t put domestic cats out to the barns -- the average lifespan of a cat out on a farm is roughly three to five years and 80 per cent of cats that you relocate to a new farm traditionally die in the first 12 months,” LaPlante claims. “The only cats we put out to farms are the feral, who are spayed and neutered and cannot be made into house pets.

“We think that three to five years is still a better life than arbitrarily being euthanized at a shelter.”

Most of the cats they rescue are not feral, but rather abandoned house pets, she said.

“We are dealing with a population of people who are getting free animals, not investing any money into them and then throwing them away like garbage later,” LaPlante said. “It is one of the reasons we don’t agree with giving animals away for free because people who want free animals are the bad owners.”

Their adoptions fees range from $150 for a kitten to $50 for the less desirable, senior or physically disabled cats.

The organization does not believe in euthanizing, unless the cat has leukemia or other incurable sickness.

“Our belief is that everyone will find a home eventually we just have to keep looking,” LaPlante said. “If they are going to pay $50 or $150, they are most likely not going to dump them onto the street because they have invested into them.”

Anyone interested in either donating to Sask Alley Cats or becoming a foster family can contact them at saskalleycats@hotmail.com or LaPlante at 306-831-2287.

“The great thing about fostering is maybe you haven’t had a pet for a while, maybe you are allergic or don’t know if your children are allergic -- fostering is almost like dating,” LaPlante said. “You get to play the field. You date a lot of girls and guys, you like them but you didn’t want to marry everyone. As an animal lover, you can date some cats, you get to know them, you like them and want to help them, but that doesn’t mean you want to keep every one for 20 years either.”

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, La Ronge

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