March 11, 2019 6:00 am

Winnipeg overrun with an estimated 100,000 feral cats, says shelter

A cat relaxes at the Craig Street Cats shelter in this file photo.

Tamara Forlanski / Global News
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According to the founder of one of Winnipeg’s best-known cat shelters, the city could have as many as 100,000 feral cats roaming the streets.

Lynne Scott of Craig Street Cats told 680 CJOB the city’s unique history and geography make it perfectly suited for large populations of free-roaming felines.

The reason is very straight-forward – they’re here because their food is here.

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“Due to Winnipeg’s history as an agrarian centre, and being the continental hub for grain transportation for many, many years, and billions of rodents being here, we’re right at the top of that list,” said Scott.

Scott said cats were initially brought into Manitoba by settlers, to deal with rats and other rodents after grains and other rodent-friendly crops began to be planted on the prairies.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Humane Society stands behind proposed cat declawing ban

Despite the large numbers – estimated, Scott said, by a pair of scientific formulas that take into account the human population and the geography of the region, among other factors – it’s unlikely the average Winnipegger will run into a feral cat colony anytime soon.

“You’re not likely to happen upon a colony,” she said. “These cats survive by making themselves invisible.

“Along the riverbanks is the most popular place (for free-roaming cats), because there’s lots of natural food and places to hide, but they go any place they can get some shelter and get out of the wind in winter.

“Under sheds, under porches, under decks… in warehouses, industrial areas. Junkyards are a prime location, because there’s lots of rodents there.”

READ MORE: ‘Cats, cats everywhere’: Chilliwack shelters overwhelmed by colony of feral cats

Scott said her shelter currently houses and cares for over 200 cats, with 50 more in foster homes. Craig Street Cats feeds a further 500 of the animals on the streets.

WATCH: Craig Street Cats stopping adoptions, seeking donations after 5 cats die from virus

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