Shelter strain unrelenting
It’s been a little more than two months since Michelle Hicks and Carma issued the call for more to be done to curb an overpopulation of cats in Amherst.
In that time the temperatures have gotten colder and the number of abandoned cats at Carma’s temporary shelter have remained constant, but, there have been some positives.
“Certainly more awareness. We’ve had calls, and interestingly enough we’ve had adoptions,” Hicks says.
Carma offers options when it comes to rehoming abandoned cats. After each cat’s medical needs are addressed, Carma offers a foster program as well as adoptions, and the organization will take back the pet if circumstances change.
Hicks is worried history may repeat itself, however. Last winter 18 cats were abandoned and the numbers at in the shelter grew quickly. This winter, volunteers may be turning away abandoned cats, but they are not turning a blind-eye.
“We’re already at capacity, the shelter is full,” Hicks said. “If we don’t get help with fosters or adoptions we’re not going to be able to manage this winter. There are going to be cats, sadly, left outdoors that have no options ... everybody is in a crisis mode.”
One of the issues contributing to the overpopulation is people getting pets before they are settled into a long-term living arrangement. Moving from home to home, apartment to apartment runs up against a second issue – landlords, soured by the experience of bad pet ownership, refusing pets.
“A small group can ruin it for the larger group,” Hicks said. “A lot of people who don’t spay or neuter, or leave an apartment damaged – male cats in particular who spray – have caused landlords to say ‘We don’t want pets in here.’ So what happens is when these people are transient and they have to move and can’t find a place to go that accepts pets they leave them behind.”
In the last month, it has been an issue Hicks has dealt with four times and in all cases where she is contacted to deal with abandoned pets she gets the tenants’ information and reports it to the SPCA. In some cases charges have been laid, but these do little to fix the present problem. Right now, Hicks pegs the feral and abandoned cat population in Cumberland County in the thousands.
“It’s staggering what two cats can produce over seven years between themselves and their progeny – their cats having cats, having more cats.”
To help or learn more look for search for Carma Amherst’s Facebook page.
Despite finding new homes for some of the shelter’s inhabitants, the waiting list to find a warm spot at Carma Amherst’s temporary shelter is ongoing. Chapter president Michelle Hicks is concerned without more action from community leaders the issue will not resolve itself.