Some feral cat rescuers say the cat lovers in your neighbourhood could reduce numbers of feral cats on the street.
On Oct. 16, International Feral Cat Day, the Toronto Animal Services’ (TAS) Scarborough shelter held an event aimed at raising awareness about feral cats in the community. Supported also by the Toronto Feral Cat Trap-Neuter-and-Return Coalition, the shelter invited local cat owners to a free spay-neuter clinic and winter shelter building workshop for the wild cats.
Mary Lou Leiher, a TAS supervisor, said the workshop was very successful and local volunteer rescue groups already distributed the shelters throughout Scarborough. Leiher said there are no official statistics specifically on the feral cats.
Liz White, director of the Animal Alliance of Canada, estimated the feral cat population in Toronto is as high as 100,000.
A former director of the Toronto Humane Society, White added the numbers are “exclusively human-caused,” as many feral cats once had homes.
The city is looking into lifting the limit on the number of pets allowed in a home. The coalition said if the limit of six pets per home is lifted, it could help reduce the number of feral cats.
“Bylaws that are imposed, implemented and taken seriously by the city require people to become responsible pet owners to license and identify them so that they [animals] can be returned back home when got lost. The city should expect its residents to do so,” White said. “The cats tend to be disposable, be turned in great numbers to the city. The city is flooded with these animals, and of course, they [the city] don’t want to euthanize them. They want to find them good homes.”
She said 11,000 cats ended up at TAS shelters last year.
“Unsterilized cats that are allowed to stray [without colony or owner] also contribute to the high population,” Leiher said.
“The key is to sterilize as many cats as possible. In the long term, we can reduce the numbers of animals who reproduce, and the ever-increasing population of animals outside and feral cats,” White explained. “It would reduce the numbers of animals coming into the shelters, and those that might have to be euthanized.”
Another public consultation meeting for the bylaw will take place at Scarborough Civic Centre on Oct. 30. The proposal will come to a vote during the Municipal Licensing and Standard Committee’s November meeting.