(Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian via AP file)

(Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian via AP file)

‘I can’t take them all with me’: Feral cats on N.L. island face uncertain future as humans relocate

Animal welfare groups involved in campaign to domesticate, find homes for some of the animals

Animal lovers in Newfoundland and Labrador are seeking help for dozens of feral cats facing an uncertain future as the humans in the small town where they prowl prepare to relocate.

Residents of Little Bay Islands have voted to resettle the community, and they have until the end of the year to move before electricity, maintenance and other government services are withdrawn.

Little Bay Islands, off Newfoundland’s northern coast, is one of many rural communities in the province faced with a dwindling population and difficult choices — the 2016 census recorded just 71 people living in the town.

As residents grapple with the prospect of leaving their homes behind, the question of what will happen to the feral felines remains.

Carol Hull, in the midst of planning her own move, said that as residents have moved away over the years, some have left their cats. Many of the animals had not been neutered, and Hull said this has produced a lasting population of “semi-feral” cats. She estimates there are between 35 and 40 living in the community.

Hull has been caring for some of the cats, feeding those that come by her property. She’s also rescued some kittens and tried to facilitate adoptions. But some of the cats are too wild to be adopted, she said, and time is running out before the human caretakers the cats have come to rely on are forced to leave.

“I can’t take them all with me,” Hull said by phone.

READ MORE: Nearly 60 feral cats caught in one B.C. neighbourhood

Animal welfare groups in other parts of Newfoundland have become involved in the campaign to domesticate and find homes for some of the animals. The Exploits Valley SPCA has started a social media campaign showcasing the 14 cats rescued from the community so far.

In a Facebook post earlier this month, the group highlighted the feral cat problem that isn’t unique to the small town, saying that rescue organizations across the province are “overwhelmed” and unable to make space for all the cats in need.

“There’s a cat problem in Newfoundland and Labrador (and) the entire world,” the Oct. 6 post read. “Little Bay Islands is no exception, but it poses a problem since it will soon be abandoned.” The group said in its post that some of the cats may starve if the population is left to continue growing on the island.

In following days, the SPCA posted photos of some of the 14 Little Bay Islands cats, most of them kittens, that have since been adopted. But the rest of the free-roaming felines have less certain futures.

Hull said she thinks the government relocation policy should involve some support for abandoned animals. But she worries that government involvement could mean the cats are just put down.

READ MORE: Money getting tight for Fraser Valley volunteer feral cat rescuers

Instead, she’s hoping for a bump in funding for animal welfare groups willing to take them in. Hull said as long as volunteers are willing to help her round up the cats, she’ll return as many times as it takes to secure their future.

“The main thing to us is (to avoid) the destruction of healthy animals,” she said.

“I’m willing to leave my new home, wherever, and come out here every day of the week as long as there’s a rescue group on that boat with me.”

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sara Guenther, 102-years-old is the first resident in Vanderhoof to have received the COVID-19 vaccine. (Northern Health photo)
Vanderhoof receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine

Long-term care residents at the Stuart Nechako Manor along with staff were vaccinated Friday.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

Most Read