Williams Lake & District SPCA says the city has an increasing number of cats being brought into the shelter - totalling 562 cats and kittens in 2011.

Williams Lake & District SPCA says the city has an increasing number of cats being brought into the shelter - totalling 562 cats and kittens in 2011.

Stray cats continue to be a major problem for the lakecity

The Williams Lake and District SPCA reports a major surge in the number of rescued stray cats.

According to the Williams Lake & District SPCA branch manager Liz Dighton, Williams Lake has earned the distinction of having the highest number of cats entering the branch per capita within B.C.

Just under 1,000 animals came through the Williams Lake SPCA shelter in 2011. Two hundred of those were brought in from within the city limits and another 83 by the city’s animal control.

“Of these 562 were cats and kittens,” Dighton told city council Tuesday.

Often cats are abandoned at the transfer station’s share shed, she said.

The numbers reflect stray cats and irresponsibility that has allowed them to roam or be abandoned.

To help tackle the high number of animals coming to the shelter, the branch fundraises to care for around 1,000 animals a year. It also focuses on public education activities.

Education is crucial Dighton insisted and said that locally the branch has to step up and be pushy with owners, especially people who own cats.

It’s an issue that is growing quickly and it’s a community issue, she said.

“Unfortunately if your parents didn’t spay and neuter then many people won’t spay and neuter so we have to get out there and show them why we should,” Dighton said.

Dighton told council the branch has 3.4 employed positions, five volunteers on its community council, 10 regular volunteers that will walk dogs or whatever is needed, 20 other volunteers that help with special events and fundraising, and approximately 10 families willing to foster animals, normally kittens.

In 1998, Pat Lauren passed away and left a generous legacy to the local branch and in 2002, it was Lauren’s daughter Kirstin Lauren who stepped up to  develop the branch’s biggest fundraiser, Paws For A Cause.

This year’s event will take place on Sept. 9 and is always an opportunity for people to gather with other like-minded animal caring folk.

There really are people out there who appreciate the benefits of having loving animal companions, adopted and otherwise made easy friends, Dighton said, adding the Paws for A Cause is always a chance to support animals in need.

Each year the SPCA collaborates with Scotia Bank throughout B.C. to hold the event.

Dighton says every branch in the province will have something going on during that weekend.

A buddy walk traditionally sees every manner of mutt with family in tow showing up for the morning celebration.

The event keeps growing too. In the first year 2002, 25 people came out for the walk, and in 2011 there were over 115 registered walkers and many more showed up to participate.

Organizers are starting to get details ready for this year’s walk and will begin sharing more once they are finalized.

Occasionally local vets will come and put on displays, and Dighton reminded there is always the successful silent auction.

“All money we raise stays here,” she added.