Whisker Rescue is working to manage stray cat populations in communities across Central Alberta, with the Rural Roundup/TNR Program. 

Last year, a record-breaking 247 cats entered the Whisker Rescue subsidized spay and neuter program, at a cost of $23,526. 

“Through this program we pay the majority of the cost of these life saving surgeries,” Volunteer Executive Director Stacy Worobetz explains. 

On average, between 90 to 140 cats enter the program per year.  

“We have seen a definite increase in the number of cats needing our help through this program. It appears there are more cats than ever being abandoned in rural areas,” Worobetz says. “Shelters and rescues are overflowing and are not able to help intake cats as fast as needed.” 

Worobetz explains the high cost of living, rising veterinary costs, and the cost of pet food could be attributed for the increase of abandoned cats. 

The program was developed specifically for farm or acreage owners who have cats appear on their property. 

“This is a huge problem for so many farm and acreage owners, and they need help to manage this cat overpopulation crisis we are all facing,” Worobetz says. 

The program not only helps rural property owners in managing litter populations, but also promotes the humane treatment of animals. 

“Most people don’t ask for the cats that come to their property, but so many kind hearts out there are willing to care for them if they just get a little assistance with the cost of spaying and neutering,” Worobetz says. 

To enter the program, rural property owners must complete an application that is sent to participating veterinary clinics, before an appointment is scheduled. 

Worobetz explains the only challenge the rescue faces is continuing to fundraise the amount needed to sustain the program.  

“As more people learn about it, the more we will be asked for help, and we want to make sure we can be there for everyone who needs us,” says Worobetz. 

Despite the increase of stray cats, expanding the program to other areas of the province is difficult, as the rescue group is 100 per cent volunteer run, relying on foster homes and pet stores to help place cats in care.  

“We need to fundraise every dollar ourselves to help with this program,” Worobetz says. 

The program wouldn’t be possible without the community volunteers, and participating veterinarians.  

“We are so grateful they have helped us continue this program,” Worobetz says. 

Going forward, the rescue is focusing on fundraising efforts, public education, and starting conversations with municipalities to find a sustainable solution.  

“These cats are being abandoned and showing up on farms and acreages through no fault of their own. Many are friendly, tame, and have no survival skills,” says Worobetz. “They are scared, and alone and are hopefully met with care and compassion." 

For more information on the programs and services offered, or to donate, visit the Whisker Rescue website here.