With the winter months and colder temperatures on the horizon, Maritimers are expressing concerns for the large number of feral cats in the region.
Yolanda Ehler says she never intended to become her neighbourhood’s “cat lady,” but it’s a title she has earned and she’s proud of it.
Ehler rescued a cat and kittens in Guysborough five years ago, and since then she’s been appointed the go-to person for neighbours seeking help with animals.
A litter of kittens turned up on a neighbour’s property earlier in the year in Lantz. N.S., so Ehler says she set out to catch the mother and have her neutered.
Once she reached the feline, she says it was too late.
‘She was lactating and there were kittens everywhere,” she says. “I was mortified. I was in complete panic.”
Her and a group of neighbours searched for the mother’s kittens into the night, but only found one blue-eyed kitten with grey fuzzy fur.
The next morning, one of her neighbours found another kitten and that was just the beginning.
"Then they texted me and said 'we found two more,' and then ‘another one.’"
They discovered five kittens in total and now they’re all comfortably reunited with the mother cat in Ehler’s spare room.
Ehler’s story generated attention on social media, but some are saying other cats don't always have such a happy ending.
Director of programs at the Nova Scotia SPCA, Heather Woodin says feral cat colonies are common in the province.
Woodin says the organization has trapped, neutered and returned 500 felines this year, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
"In HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) alone, there have been some reports that it could be as high as 50,000 feral cats,” Woodin says.
Ehler says her home is currently approaching “cat capacity” so she can only do so much to help other feral felines.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.