Last week, the Nova Scotia SPCA put out a news release about an overflow of cats and kittens in their care and the thousands waiting to be taken in.

The cat crunch at the SPCA alone is said to be up 25 per cent over last year.

But it is also nothing new.

It is the same release put out every summer. The same plea to adopt. The same plea to help with the influx of cats and kittens that befalls the SPCA, and every other rescue shelter.

Well, truthfully, it is year-round.

There is no respite in cat rescue. It is a four-season endeavour. The problem is only measured in degrees: there is only busy, and we are-having-a-nervous-breakdown busy.

Sure, there are fewer kittens born in the winter. But they are still born. Cats of all ages are out there 12 months of the year. They are often starving, dehydrated, frostbitten or breaking teeth from eating frozen food. They die because of untreated injuries, illnesses, the elements or cars.

They don’t go away when the lawn chairs are packed up.

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The reason is simple: cats are considered disposable. Whether domesticated or feral, they have almost no protection under the law, which means you can leave your cat behind when you move or Fluffy can wander the neighbourhood looking for her next baby daddy.

Other than responsible, loving owners and tireless rescuers, cats have few if any well-connected advocates.

Dogs, conversely, have plenty of friends in high places.

There is an entire taxpayer-funded infrastructure set up to respond to issues related to dogs. And while their protection could be improved, especially in the area of tethering, cats would kill to have the level of societal and legal care afforded dogs.


The provincial agriculture minister’s recent call for input on changes to the Animal Protection Act pretty much sums up the great divide.

According to the department’s website, regulation changes will focus on:

standards of design, construction and maintenance of shelters, facilities, restraints and tethers

standards of care for dogs

standards with respect to the sale of dogs

and transportation of dogs

As I said, the gap between dogs and cats is still a country-mile wide.

Even if these proposed beefed-up regulations pass, it will still be legal to toss your cat out the door when you tire of it, sell a sick kitten at a flea market, or irresponsibly breed cats.

There will also still be little or no protection or help to control and manage the untold number of feral colonies around the province.

Why? Because legislators at all levels don’t care. They have said it often enough with their (in)actions and their words.

Thankfully, many cat advocates do, though, and I suspect the minister’s mailbox is filling with proposals and comments from those who love our domesticated and wild felines.

If you also care, drop Agriculture Minister John MacDonell a line at PAWS@gov.ns.ca.

Pat Lee is an editor at thechronicleherald.ca and a volunteer with various animal rescue organizations, including the Nova Scotia SPCA.

(plee@herald.ca)