More than 700 feral cats spayed/neutered in Norfolk

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Postmedia Network file photo

Postmedia Network file photo


A tug-of-war is looming over the allocation of Norfolk’s cat control budget.

Last year, Norfolk council split $50,000 between Norfolk PAWS of Simcoe and the Simcoe & District Humane Society.

All told, the cash helped sterilize more than 700 feral cats.

However, Sandi Fettes of Simcoe, spokesperson for PAWS, doesn’t consider this allocation “equitable.”

At Tuesday’s meeting of council, Fettes explained that PAWS speaks not only for itself but PURRfect Companions of Delhi, PAWSitive Solutions of Simcoe, and Night and Day Rescue of Waterford.

Acting in concert, these groups used their $25,000 grant to sterilize and vaccinate 333 cats through the last half of 2017. Fettes told council these groups should be treated individually and funded accordingly.

Fettes later clarified that all five groups should be funded at a rate of 20 per cent of available money.

If council goes this route, the Simcoe & District Humane Society will have something to say about it.

For its program, PAWS and its associated groups allocate $75 per stray cat. For its part, the local humane society allocates $35.

This $35 represents the subsidy the humane society is prepared to award individuals who have a feral cat sterilized at a veterinary clinic on their own initiative.

Individuals wishing to collect this subsidy must present an invoice from a clinic designating the cat as a stray.

Cathie Hosken of Vittoria, president and executive director of the local humane society, says allocating the grant money under the current formula translates into a larger number of sterilized cats.

“We’re looking after around 800 strays a year,” Hosken said Wednesday. “We’ve been looking after that many for the past several years. The main animals that come in are cats.

“This money is just not for ourselves or our organization -- it’s for the county.”

In its report to the county, SDHS says its $25,000 allocation was used to sterilize 391 homeless cats.

The humane society ended 2017 with a surplus in this account of about $13,000.

SDHS had 100 cats in the queue for sterilization at the end of the year and asked the county if it could use this surplus in January and February for this purpose. The county said no, adding the money was meant to be spent in 2017.

“Unfortunately, that is a loss for us,” Hosken said.

There is also disagreement in the rescue community about how many feral cats are at large in Norfolk. In the past, SDHS has suggested tens of thousands. Tuesday, Fettes told council this is an “exaggeration.”

Whatever the number, Hosken says trap, neuter and release is making a difference. She added now is not the time to apply the brakes.

“I’m dealing with at least 45 barns that have anywhere from 50 to 100 cats,” Hosken said. “But spaying and neutering are working. Colonies where there used to be 50 now have two or three. The reductions have been noticeable in the areas where we’ve been working.”

Norfolk staff is compiling a report on how the county’s cat control program performed in 2017.

Norfolk council will consider the statistics before it decides on an allocation for 2018. This will occur Jan. 24-26. These are the days council has set aside to consider its 2018 operating budget.