2011 has been declared the Year of the Cat.

And the city, along with the Calgary Humane Society and the MEOW Foundation are joining the initiative to address the issue of cat overpopulation across Canada.

"We are excited about participating in this collaborative initiative because we know that education is instrumental in changing people's beliefs regarding cats," said Bill Bruce, Director of The City of Calgary Animal & Bylaw Services.

"The number of unwanted and abandoned cats entering shelters and rescue organizations is increasing every year. Citizens can help us stop this growing crisis."

Awareness campaigns and initiatives planned for Calgary focus on the importance of cat licensing and permanent identification in reuniting lost cats with their owners.

Licensing helps reduce the number of cats that sit unclaimed in shelters and that ultimately may be euthanized.

The focus will also be on the importance of spay and neuter surgery to help reduce the overall number unwanted cats.

"This year long initiative is really about responsible pet ownership and valuing cats," said Patricia Cameron, the Executive Director of the Calgary Humane Society. "Cats deserve the same respect and care that people give their canine companions."