Walking into Creature Comfort Pet Emporium in St. Jacobs you are greeted with inquisitive looks and a few cocked heads, but it’s not from owner Chris Schaefer or her staff, it’s from the four rescue kittens that wander the store. There is a cat overpopulation crisis in the region and Schaefer is trying to educate the public about a different method of adopting cats rather than going to a local pet store.
The kittens are available for adoption at the store through the non-profit cat rescue organization Cats Anonymous, based in Orton, Ontario.
“There is no shelter in Woolwich Township so the services for strays and homeless cats are nonexistent here. We want people to be aware that we have a venue that holds cats and that people can see them and hopefully help them,” said Schaefer. “We have always been heavily involved in rescue; fostering cats is very simple.”
Each adoptable kitten is spay and neutered, vaccinated, de-wormed, treated for fleas and ear mites and are tested for leukemia and FIV, the feline HIV.
The store’s mission is “working together to provide creature comfort for pets in need.” Lately, they’ve adopted the saying “it takes a community to raise a child” and expanded it to include the protection and shelter of the animals within.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that rescue exists so we are trying to increase awareness that there is another option out there,” she said. “We try to support rescue and encourage people to take that approach when it comes to finding a new family pet. I always say, ‘please adopt, don’t shop.’”
Shelters in the region are currently overwhelmed with cats. The Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society (KWHS) is over capacity by 40 adult cats at a centre that can normally house 119 cats at anytime.
Every year the KWHS is besieged with cats in the spring and summer, as that is the typical mating season for the animals.
People from all over the region find stray cats on their property that have found a safe and warm place in a shed or near the house to have their litter and bring the strays to the humane society.
“We really need people to spay and neuter their cats. Even if they have an indoor cat, if they get out and it’s prime mating season, it doesn’t take long to mate,” said Amy Gruber, community relations manager at the KWHS. “This is why we have a lot of feral kittens and stray cats.”
KWHS has set up a new summer program as a way to deal with the overpopulation crisis by allowing pet owners to adopt any cat for the regular adoption fees and have the choice to take home a second adult cat for $10.
“Adult cats don’t find homes as easily as kittens. Kittens have that cuteness to them, they jump and play, they market themselves better,” said Gruber. “If you are adopting a kitten, an adult cat can show it the ropes, show them how to be a cat and at the same time give the kitten a playmate.”
The adult cats at the shelter are not 18-year-old cats – in most cases they are only a year old and are considered by the KWHS to be tame toddlers that are still exploring and curious like kittens, but also take down time and know how to use a litter box.
“We really want to be able to give them great forever homes,” said Gruber.
People that are unable to adopt or do not want a cat but still want to help
can do so by fostering, volunteering or donating to the KWHS at www.kwhumane.com.