Marie Cooney calls it an epidemic. People simply dropping off mother cats and their kittens in the ditches of rural roads.

Cooney lives on Thames Road, about a 40-minute drive southwest of London.

“From early this spring to now, if all the cats and kittens were still here, we’d have 65 at this point in time.“

Cooney says the issue begins with people offering up cats for free, but every animal comes with a cost, “When you think you’re getting a free cat, please realize it’s a $300 or $400 cat.“

Those are the initial veterinary costs to have the animal spay or neutered, along with vaccinations.

Cooney says people try to avoid those costs or put it off but often end up with a litter of kittens.

When cats and kittens show up on her property, Cooney then turns to Animal Aide, a cat rescue and adoption agency in St. Thomas.

Sherrie Goodwin is th office manager for Animal Aide, she says, “I get multiple calls daily about cats that are in the country. Nobody will help them.”

But Goodwin says, like most animal shelters, Animal Aide doesn’t receive government funding, relying on donations, fundraising events, and money from adoptions.

"In the months of June, July and August our vet bills are anywhere from $28,000 to $32,000 a month. So money is a big thing for us.”

At this time of year space is also a concern, with cages filled with cats and kittens; and cats about to have kittens.

Animal Aide adopts out cats for $180, which includes the spay or neuter and initial vaccinations.

Cooney hopes people will see this as a better option over a ‘free’ kitten and believes it will help break the cycle of abandoned cats.