Officials with Cat Rescue Maritimes say they’re seeing a growing number of abandoned cats in New Brunswick – many found near-frozen or starved to death.
Dr. Mildred Drost, a veterinarian in Florenceville, said Tuesday she was able to save one cat recently, but not before it was severely injured by the cold.
“She lost all four feet, her tail and both ears. We transplanted pads … onto the ends of her legs because all the bones from her feet were gone,” Drost said Tuesday. “She is a total house cat now. But she is lucky.”
Drost said each winter she sees at least 15 starved cats with matted hair and infected eyes, and probably an equal number of cats struck and injured by cars.
“It’s not a shock for us. It’s actually a shock if we go two or three weeks without seeing one,” she said.
Last month, two municipal workers were hailed for rescuing a frozen, urine-soaked kitten from a rural snowbank in Minto. At first, they thought the cat was dead, but then its head moved.
Cat Rescue spokeswoman Sue Knight said the two men warmed the kitten – now named Ajax – which responded to the affection. It was later treated for fleas, ear mites and frostbitten paws.
Knight said another cat, they’ve named him Russell, was found near death in a snowbank in the same area, and is being nursed back to health.
The cat had to be shaved because its long hair was matted. It was sporting a pink sweater during an appearance at a news conference Tuesday in Fredericton.
The officials say they’re constantly hearing stories of people dropping off unwanted cats at farms, or leaving them behind when the lease on homes and apartments run out.
The group is launching an online survey to determine the number of stray and feral cats in the province, and where the problem areas are located.
“We’ve got to come together – all of us – and get a handle on this problem because it isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse,” Knight said.
The group operates trap-neuter-and-return programs aimed at controlling the cat population.
“We did about 1,900 cats with the 10 chapters last year in New Brunswick. Let’s find solutions because there are hundreds and thousands of cats out there unnecessarily suffering,” Knight said.
She said the survey will remain active for about a year to gather enough data to spot trends.