Calgary tries new approach to get more stray cats home as Animal Services nears capacity

WATCH: Calgary's Animal Services building is near capacity when it comes to cats, and staff are desperate to get some of those animals home. For the first time, the city is trying a new approach it hopes will result in better outcomes for Calgary's cat population. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.

The City of Calgary held it’s first-ever cat licensing and microchipping event at the Animal Services Centre on Sunday.

It’s a new approach aimed at getting lost cats back to their owners. Animal Services is offering cat owners a chance to get their pets microchipped for only $7 with the purchase of a pet licence or renewal. The total cost for a licence plus microchip for a spayed or neutered cat is $25 plus GST. Licence and chip for pets who have not been spayed or neutered is $45 plus GST.

READ MORE: City of Calgary offering deal on licensing, microchipping cats at special events

Animal Services is close to its cat capacity and needs to find ways to get more stray cats home. It hopes the weekend microchipping events will help.

“We have heard other municipalities have done it with great success,” said Kathleen Dickson, City of Calgary Animal Services Centre lead, on Sunday. “We are looking to increase our licensed cat numbers in the city and cats with permanent identification so we can get them home if they ever get impounded.”

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Since 2007, Calgary has had a bylaw requiring that cats be kept on their owner’s property and be licensed.

Animal Services staff say not only does keeping your cat inside make your neighbours happy, but it can also prevent tragic outcomes like what was captured on video last week in Calgary. The video showed a bobcat with what looked like a domestic cat in its jaws.

WATCH: Bobcat sightings on the rise in Calgary

“It’s very scary but it’s a real danger in the city,” Dickson said.

“It’s for the cats’ health and safety. Cats that run off [their] owner’s property are more likely to come in contact with predators or [get] run over by a vehicle or get into a chemical or something that is dangerous to them, so it’s safer for the animals if they are an indoor cat.”

Despite the ownership rules being the same for cats and dogs in Calgary, stray dogs are going home at over double the rate of cats.

In 2018, 76 per cent of stray dogs turned into the city were returned home. The rate of return with cats was only 33 per cent.

READ MORE: Calgary animal shelter drops adoption fee amid cat crisis

Sunday was an exciting day for Lisa Chalifoux. The Calgary woman went home with a cat from Animal Services. Her newly adopted kitty will have a licence and microchip, and Chalifoux plans to keep the cat indoors. Ten years ago, Chalifoux was heartbroken when her cat died after being hit by a car. Her message now to all cat owners is to keep your cat inside.

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“Because of all the bad things that are out there — diseases, cars and other animals — that can really hurt a cat,” said Chalifoux.

The city will hold two more microchip events at the Animal Services Centre on Nov. 17 and Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.