Feral Cat Population Control

Discover what the OHS is doing and what you can do to help

While the community rallied to help the OHS during its internal cat population crisis in August, outside the shelter, the plight of feral cats remains dire. Thousands of cats are living nasty, brutish and short lives in dozens of feral colonies across the city. Sadly, most could never live indoors despite our best efforts to socialize them. They have never lived with humans and so have never learned to trust them.

Being killed or injured by predators or vehicles, suffering pain from illness, enduring the misery of being exposed to the elements—or more horrifically, being subjected to human abuse—the threats to these sad creatures are real. At the OHS, we see the impact every day.

Feral cats are the offspring of unsterilized cats allowed by their owners to run free. Our community has created this problem, and we have a responsibility to fix it. Too many animals are suffering for us to continue to turn a blind eye to their fate.

For years, the OHS has worked with feral colony caretakers to support “Trap, Neuter, Release” programs. At no cost, the OHS has worked with caretakers to sterilize, microchip and vaccinate colony cats in their care. The demand is simply too great and the OHS recognizes it is the root of the problem that must be addressed – prevent cats from becoming feral in the first place.

For decades, the OHS has educated thousands of children and adults on the importance of sterilizing cats and keeping them indoors. Cats allowed to roam free face the same dangers as feral cats, and if they become lost their future is grim. Only eight per cent of stray cats admitted to the OHS are claimed by their owners. So to ensure we aren’t contributing to the problem, the OHS sterilizes all cats before they are adopted. Still, our efforts are not enough. As our city grows, so does the number of feral cat colonies.

Two years ago, the OHS introduced a new program whereby our Mobile Spay Neuter Clinic and services team visit lower income neighbourhoods in Ottawa where animals are at risk of not being spayed or neutered. To date, over 3,300 cats have been sterilized. The majority of cat owners served have admitted their cat would not have been sterilized if it wasn’t for our mobile clinic.

We have helped prevent many cat owners from becoming responsible for a litter of kittens. Consequently, we have also helped prevent cat homelessness and suffering. But the OHS cannot single-handedly decrease Ottawa’s feral cat population. We need your help. Here’s what you can do:

  • Ensure your pet is sterilized and encourage others to do so.
  • Don’t let it roam.
  • When taking your cat outdoors, make sure it is fitted with a harness and leash.
  • Microchip your cat, and make sure it is wearing a visible collar with an ID tag.
  • Indoor cats can escape, so ensure they too are wearing a visible collar with an ID tag.
  • Contact us about suspected feral cats or colonies in your community.
  • Support the OHS and our mission to end the plight of feral cats in Ottawa.

By working together, we will increase the possibility of ending cat homelessness and suffering in our community.