VANCOUVER -- The BC SPCA is providing funding to 11 animal organizations to help address the issue of feral cat populations throughout the province.

The funds are part of the Community Animal Spay and Neuter grant program, which is in its ninth year of creating partnerships across municipalities to reach and rescue more cats and kittens.

In a news release, the BC SPCA said efforts to prevent cat overpopulation have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to delays for spay and neuter surgeries, reduced capacity in staff and volunteers and a limited ability to travel to provide care for cats in need.

“Many of the areas we are funding this year are working in areas that struggled with access to vet care even before the pandemic,” said Marieke van der Velden, outreach specialist at the BC SPCA, in the release.

“The efforts of our grantees are now more important than ever and we are excited to make this work possible."

One of the groups receiving funding this year is CatSpan Ferals in Nanoose Bay, which takes in 80 to 100 cats each year.

Kathy Robinson, a CatSpan volunteer, told CTV News Vancouver Island the funding will help cover the roughly $40,000 in vet bills the registered charity pays annually.

"We foster them in our own homes, we get them spayed and neutered, vaccinated, deflead, dewormed, the whole 9 yards," Robinson said.

She said often cats come to the charity when a kindly homeowner begins feeding one or two strays that show up in their yard. Soon, the cats have kittens and the homeowner becomes overwhelmed, Robinson said.

"More and more we’ve found that these cats aren't actually feral, they’re just scared to death and they become feral because somebody’s dumped them, because somebody's just opened the door and let them go," she added.

In addition to preventing population growth, the SPCA says spaying and neutering feral cats improves their individual health and helps reduce human-animal conflict.

The full list of grant recipients follows. More information on the program can be found on the BC SPCA website

  • Canadian Animal Assistance Team – Bella Bella
  • Campbell River Partners in Animal Welfare – Alert Bay
  • Catspan Ferals Registered Charity - Nanoose Bay
  • CATS Meow Society - Port Hardy
  • Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven - Chilliwack
  • Invermere Companion Animal Network (ICAN) - Invermere
  • Kitty Cat Pals – Comox
  • Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) - Langley
  • Pawz United Rescue Society (PURS) - Prince Rupert
  • Spirit Mission Rescue Society - Bella Bella

Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society - Valemount