October 16, 2023

The Plight of Feral Cats

Today is National Feral Cat Day — dedicated to raising awareness and support of feral cats and ending the cycle of cat homelessness through compassionate means like trap, neuter and release programs and community education.

The OHS has admitted more than 70 cats since last Thursday.

It’s important to know that true feral cats are distinct from semi-socialized cats who roam outdoors.

A feral cat has had limited or no contact with, and is fearful of people. They are typically born outdoors.

Because of this, a feral cat would be extremely fearful in captivity or living in a house with humans, so much that it would be cruel to do so (there can be success socializing feral kittens, with the right intervention and resources). This hurdle is what led to the solution of trap, neuter and release — capturing feral cats to be neutered and returned to their colony.

Last year, the OHS hosted Ottawa’s Community Cat Summit to explore the best options for ending Ottawa’s cycle of homeless cats. A major challenge that surfaced from the summit was the difficulty in locating feral cat colonies and gathering reliable information on how many roaming and feral cats are in the community. Of course, another issue is simply the sheer number of feral cats and the limited community resources available to help them. We know that there is no quick solution to this, but we’re committed to working with our community, to end the plight of feral cats in Ottawa.

What we do know is that feral cats are an issue that people created. Responsible pet ownership is key in preventing the feral cat population from growing. Sterilizing domestic cats and keeping them safely indoors unless on a leash and harness with their owner or in an enclosed catio are two major ways that individuals can help reduce the feral cat population.

The weather’s getting colder, and roaming and feral cats will soon face an even steeper fight for survival outdoors. Ottawa has made great progress in taking care of its cats, but there is still more work to be done. When you advocate for the importance of spaying/neutering pets and keeping cats indoors, you are saving lives.

Building a more humane and compassionate community for the animals is only possible because people like you care.

Sharon Miko
President & CEO