VANCOUVER -- For the past several years, volunteers with the Surrey Community Cat Foundation have been trying to reduce the number of stray cats.

Volunteer Anne Solomon says in Surrey alone the number of cats on the street is in the thousands.

“It’s estimated there are anywhere between 15,000 to 25,000 stray and abandoned cats,” Solomon said.

Some of those are feral but most used to be someone’s pet.

“There is a lot of people that move and leave their cats behind,” Solomon said.

Lack of pet-friendly housing is one of the contributing factors, but perhaps the biggest issue says program manager with SCCF Lubna Ekramoddoullah, is that most of the abandoned cats are left unfixed.

“And they just reproduce and contribute to the issue,” Ekramoddoullah said.

Solomon says education goes a long way and it's important that people understand the cats left unfixed to fend for themselves outside are suffering.

“The mom cat having litter after litter specifically outside she’s at huge risk of developing all kinds of illnesses. Seventy-five to 80 per cent of kittens don’t survive if they are born outside," Solomon said.

"The male cats when they are not fixed they get into fights they get leukemia they get aids, broken bones with infections from fighting its just terrible to see so we have to help them."

Trying to get a handle on the problem volunteers have been trapping stray cats, fixing them, and if they are feral re-releasing them.

“Eighty per cent of cats that are trapped are actually tame enough to be adoptable,” said Ekramoddoullah.

Out of the over 600 cats that were trapped last year only about ten were truly feral and rereleased.

“These are cats that once had homes and we are trying to address the problem at the root, which is spay and neutering cats that are owned by people,” said Ekramoddoullah.

Derrick Laursen was out of work but through the spay and neuter program at SCCF, his two kittens got fixed.

“I couldn’t afford it myself,” said Laursen.

His kittens were born from his female indoor cat. She got out one day and came back pregnant.

"I didn’t really see a necessity in it she was my only animal there was no concern with her getting pregnant while she was an indoor cat,” said Laursen.

Solomon says getting the stray cat population under control is a challenge but it is possible and the city of Vancouver is proof.

“Just look at Vancouver and Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue and what they have done here,” said Solomon.

In the early 2000s she says Vancouver’s stray cat population was an issue but through education and trapping it has been greatly reduced.

“In Surrey, we have the motto one cat at a time that’s how we look at it because we know we are never going to solve the problem completely,” Solomon said.

If you see a stray can in your neighborhood, or can’t afford to get your cat spayed or neutered, contact the SCCF.