June 8, 2023

Lost in Smoke: The Unseen Victims of Canada’s Forest Fires

Today is clear skies and clean air for Ottawa.

The smog was obviously top of mind this week. After waking up Tuesday morning to a red sky and air thick with the smell of burning pine, it was hard to think about anything else.

Throughout, I was concerned about our staff, volunteers, the animals and pets in our community. We shared what can be done to protect pets. Limiting their time outside is simply the best option — taking dogs for shorter walks, staying close to home and avoiding strenuous activity. Also trying indoor games, like food puzzles, to help keep dogs occupied, and, as always, keeping cats indoors.

Most important is contacting a veterinarian immediately if a pet is having any issues with their eyes or breathing.

Even though smoke is expected to return tomorrow, today’s break from the smog is welcome, but there’s something still worrying me. We are in the heat of kitten season and there may be hundreds of vulnerable kittens and momma cats in our community who have no shelter from the smog.

The long-term effects of wildfire smoke on animals are not well-known. I’d like to be optimistic and think that the smoke won’t impact the stray kittens in our community, but the thought feels hollow. As the consequences of climate change compound, air quality concerns might become seasonal in Ottawa, just like kittens.

While we’re all trying to make changes to help protect the world for tomorrow, there’s something you can do, to help homeless animals today. With your help, we can prevent cat homelessness through accessible spay/neuter services, robust sheltering and adoption programs and promoting cat-friendly attitudes in the community.

You can get involved in this life-saving work right now and help secure a better future for Ottawa’s cats. No matter the challenge.

Sharon Miko

President & CEO