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Housing crisis leading Vancouver renters to abandon, surrender cats and kittens

Last Updated Sep 8, 2019 at 7:53 pm PST

Kiyon and Lucy, two cats previously sheltered at VOKRA. (Courtesy vokrablog.ca)
Summary

The rental vacancy rate is less than one per cent in Vancouver

A local rescue says people are leaving their cats behind when they can't find pet-friendly or affordable housing

The Residential Tenancy Act gives B.C. landlords the authority to limit or prohibit pets

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The number of abandoned cats and kittens is going up in Vancouver, and the co-founder of a local rescue blames the housing crisis.

People are leaving their cats behind when they can’t find affordable and pet-friendly housing, according to Maria Soroski with the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue.

“In the last two years we started to see an increase in abandoned cats, and especially this year–a lot more than we’ve ever seen,” she says. “We do get calls from citizens who say their neighbours have moved and left the cat behind.”

These abandoned cats often have kittens, adding to the overall numbers of felines needing to be rescued.

“Owners are phoning us and wanting to surrender their cats because they can’t find housing, either affordable housing or landlords that will take pets,” she says, adding some people who have adopted cats from them have subsequently surrendered them for this reason.

Soroski says pet owners should be contacting shelters before leaving their pets behind and looking into available options for low-cost or free options for getting their cats spayed or neutered.

The vacancy rate in Vancouver is less than one per cent, leaving renters with few options.

The BC SPCA says more than 1,500 animals a year are surrendered to their shelters for “housing related-reasons.” The organization has advocated for more pet-friendly policies for renters in the province.

The Residential Tenancy Act gives landlords the authority to limit or prohibit pets. In other provinces, like Ontario, landlords don’t have that power.