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Winnipeg shelters brace for annual springtime 'kitten dump'

Winnipeg Lost Cat Alert, D'arcy's A.R.C., say the numbers of kittens 'thrown away like garbage' aren't going down.

One of the 200 cats D’Arcy Johnson expects to find a home for this spring.

Meg Crane/For Metro

One of the 200 cats D’Arcy Johnson expects to find a home for this spring.

As the weather warms, Winnipeg Lost Cat Alert (WLCA) is warning Winnipeggers to look out for kittens on the street.

“Every year, when the weather gets warmer outside, uncaring and misguided people start dumping kittens they figure are old enough to be out on their own,” the group posted on its Facebook page.

While shelters and rescues are prepared for the influx of tiny felines, D’Arcy’s Animal Rescue Centre (D’Arcy’s A.R.C.) founder D’Arcy Johnston said he thinks most of those kittens are coming from feral cats.

“We will have, in spring, well over 200 kittens,” said Johnston.

He said kittens who don’t get to a shelter often starve, are attacked by other animals, get hit by cars, and are shot or otherwise harmed by people.

“In a litter of five—that’s the average litter that is born—out there, maybe only one will survive,” said Johnston.

He opened D’Arcy’s A.R.C. 16 years ago, and the number of kittens coming in during busy seasons hasn’t decreased.

“There has to be a mandatory spay and neuter program,” said Johnston.

Johnston said most homeless cats are comfortable enough with people, so he guesses they did have a home at one point but were tossed out “like garbage.”

If all cats were fixed before being put out, Winnipeg’s cat overpopulation problem wouldn’t be so bad, he addd.

For now, Johnston said D’Arcy’s A.R.C. will continue trapping feral cats to spay and neuter them, before letting the untamed animals back out.

“It’s sad that after all this time we’ve been doing it, we’re still doing it,” said Johnston.

Found kittens? Here's what you do:

If you find kittens, Johnston said not to move them right away. Instead:

  • Put a plate of food out for the mother.
  • Watch for 24 hours to see if the mother comes back.
  • If she does, contact a shelter to trap the mother and kittens.
  • If she does not return, bring the kittens to a shelter.

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