SCRAPS' Game Plan for Saving Cats


Robert Thomas

Lost, abandoned or simply tossed out on the curb, every year cats find themselves out on their own. Over time, these cats use their natural instincts to survive and became feral. Many have litters and, naturally, they grow in number. None of these cats are out there of any fault of their own but were either once pets or their descendants.

This is where the Band City Stray Cats And Rescue Protection Society or SCRAPS steps in to show compassion and help out what may once have been someone's pet.

Founded in 2011 by a small group of local animal lovers, SCRAPS had a three part mandate:
First was reducing the feral or wild cat population through non-lethal methods. SCRAPS does this by locating and humanely trapping feral cats, and then, as part of an overall health checkup, feral cats are slated and neutered before being released back to their original colony.

Secondly, SCRAPS wants to stabilize the feral cat population within the city. Although many may have once been pets, feral cats help control the rodent population.

Thirdly, in their mandate SCRAPS sets out to promote responsible pet ownership and compassion for feral cats within the community. Through displays and public education the dedicated group of volunteers are working on reaching this objective.

The numbers are massive, with one cat able to have four litters per year, with an average of six kittens. In a short seven years, this one cat and her offspring can produce an astronomical 420,000 kittens.

SCRAPS sets up shelters and feeding stations to ease the life of feral cats. But it's not just about keeping cats out in the wild when there are cats which would thrive in a home environment, SCRAPS does their best to find these cats homes.

When a feral cat is captured it is taken to a veterinarian where it is given a health checkup, which includes looking for feline leukaemia and upper respiratory infections, vaccination for rabies and distemper, an ear tattoo, a photograph and finally spay or neutering.

Anne Marciszyn is a volunteer and has been involved with SCRAPS since 2012 and says the real mission of the organization is to not only help reduce the feral cat population but also show compassion and care to the cats out there who are homeless.

She said there was at least one occasion where a resident objected to SCRAPS capturing feral cats. At that time the resident wanted the cats there because they controlled the rodent and snake population. After reassuring the resident that cats would be returned he did relent on his objections.

"Most people want the cats in the community. In this case the cats were controlling snakes and mice and performing a valuable role in the community."

People living in the area of where the feral cats live also tell the group when a cat is sick or hurt so it can be captured and taken to veterinarian for proper medical care.

The people who assist with SCRAPS work come from every age group and Marciszyn wants to assure people that the stereotype of "the crazy old cat lady" does not apply.

"We have all types of people who volunteer and help out. Some are just ordinary residents where the cats live who simply volunteer to help," she said, adding "we are not at all crazy, we are just employing a humane way to deal with a huge problem by a bunch of everyday people."

One area in which SCRAPS likes to encourage people is to not to let cats roam freely all over the community. Stray cats contribute to the numbers of feral cats, they can be injured by cars plus there are some people in the community who are cruel to cats.

The group likes to encourage people to keep their cats indoors and if they are let out to train them to walk on a leash or be inside an enclosure.

She pointed to a recent study "Cats in Canada" by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
"There are still twice as many cats being admitted to shelters as dogs and the fraction of those cats that are juveniles is also twice as high as for dogs pointing to the continuing problem of unwanted litters," the report stated.

That study found a major overpopulation in the number of cats in the country. It estimated that there are 9.3 million cats in Canada. Cats often languish longer in shelters causing stress related illnesses the study said.

SCRAPS wants to be part of the solution through their Trap and Release program which includes sterilization.

The organization has been called in to help cats facing difficulties due to the weather and other factors. She points to this past winter, when SCRAPS was called in to help a cat in -40C weather that was sitting on a storm sewer grate to stay warm. The cat was all covered in frost and despite efforts to catch it, it evaded capture. A shelter and food was provided to help the cat survive.

"Where did we go wrong to where we turn our animals out and not think about the impact? It can be very dangerous. " Marciszyn said.

SCRAPS is not part of the Moose Jaw Humane Society and receives no city funding. They are 100 percent funded by donations or fundraisers.

Marciszyn pointed to many people helping out financially, with some who fill the feeders, buying the food with their own money.

"A whole list of heroes support us." Two of the biggest ones are South Country Equipment and Pet Valu, but there are others.

To pay for their program, SCRAPS holds many fundraisers throughout the year.

Presently, SCRAPS is holding a garage sale at the Town and Country Mall until May 22nd.

They are also selling tickets on a raffle for a handcrafted purple martin birdhouse to be drawn for June 16th. The birdhouse is on display at the Town and Country Mall garage sale and May 31st, June 2nd and June 9th at the Moose Jaw Co-op.