Down a country road between Quispamsis and Hampton, a feral kitten nests in the arms of Lynn Roy, co-director of the Saint John Cat Rescue Maritimes branch. The small animal bites and scratches to little effect.
This is the highlight of Roy’s job.
“Taking a little feral kitten, bringing them round and seeing them go to a lovely home,” said Roy, rubbing the kitten.
The organization, also known as Carma, traps, spays and neuters feral cats before releasing them back into the wild to help control the population.
While in Kings County, Carma was able to trap six kittens one weekend in early May. And after setting a trap, they were able to grab the mother, Nastypants, the next day.
Catching her was a big step as the cat was about to go into heat the next week.
“[It] stops the colony in its tracks,” said Jessica Martin, who is also a co-director with the organization.
Since the animal is only a few weeks old, the nameless kitten will head to foster care instead of being re-released.
But for Carma volunteers, it’s not all warm and fuzzy.
Never ending problem
Cat populations are a citywide problem many people don’t see. This kitten came from a colony started when a resident moved away and left their single cat. Now more cats roam the woods.
Volunteers say it’s an exhausting, uphill battle in a war they know will never end. There are just too many feral cats out there. Too many colonies across the city. Too many ignorant or negligent pet owners.
Still, it’s a campaign Carma members are determined to fight.
“It has to be done,” said Martin. “Somebody has to do it. There are really no resources out here. Nobody wants to deal with ferals.”
“So, we’re the ones that take them on.”
Martin joined Carma after a feral cat had a litter under her porch seven years ago.
“Unfortunately we found her dead on the side of the road trying to get back to her kittens,” she said. “Basically I had to cut a hole in my back porch and get the kittens out.”
She said she tried to hand raise them herself and stayed on with Carma ever since.
Dark stories live on
Over the last seven years, Martin said she’s seen things she’ll never forget.
“We had a female come in a few years back with her leg in a snare,” she said. “Her leg was literally rotten.”
Veterinarians had to amputate the leg above the shoulder.
“We’ve had cases of three litters of purebreds taped up in a box and thrown in a dumpster on garbage day,” she said.
“Just a lot of cases like that,” she adds. “It makes it so you just don’t like people.”
Catching breeders important
Carma works with veterinarians and the New Brunswick SPCA, but is an independent organization.