Stray & Feral Cats

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Animal Alliance of Canada is a member of the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition, a coalition of municipal animal control and animal welfare groups, humane organizations, rescue groups and concerned individuals, working collectively to address and improve the lives of homeless and feral cats.

Click here for the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies 2012 report on Cats in Canada

What is a feral cat?

A feral cat is just like a house cat but it has been born outside and has had little to no human contact.  Our Coalition also addresses homeless cats or street cats – these are cats that may have once lived in a home but are now lost or abandoned to live on the streets.

What is TNR (Trap/ Neuter/ Return)?

TNR is the only humane and effective way to reduce the homeless cat population. TNR involves trapping, sterilizing, vaccinating, and returning cats to their colony where a caretaker feeds and monitors the colony daily.  For these cats, a small part of the left ear is removed (known as “ear tipping”), which is the international symbol for a feral cat who has been spayed / neutered.

TNR is supported by almost all major animal welfare organizations.  Toronto animal rescue groups finally have the necessary support enabling us to work together to improve the lives of these lost, abandoned and discarded animals.

Why is TNR so important?

Euthanasia due to homelessness is the largest cause of death in cats. There are an estimated 100,000 homeless cats in Toronto and approximately 400 kittens are born on our streets everyday during the spring and summer.

Cats are very efficient reproducers. Kittens as young as 5 months old can become pregnant. Cats can have multiple litters each year. Females can become pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are resources available to help Toronto residents have cats spayed or neutered. Please do not hesitate to contact any of the groups in the Coalition if you know of cats who need help.

Our Coalition model can be replicated in your municipality.  Animal Alliance and other Coalition member groups have helped rescue groups and concerned citizens in a number of other municipalities across Canada.   While we are not able to provide volunteers for TNR, if you’re having trouble with your municipality and how they treat feral cats, we will help in any way we can.  Contact us for more information.

Becoming Lost

A common misconception is that domestic cats – like their wild big cat cousins – need to roam freely in the outdoors. In truth, unlike lions or leopards, domestic cats are poorly equipped to navigate the minefield of outdoor risks that exist.

Cats may not always be able to find their way home, or they may be mistaken for stray cats and end up at a pound or animal shelter. Lost and “stray” cats risk being euthanized by animal shelters struggling with limited resources to care for the continuous flood of animals arriving at their doors.  Far too often a cat simply doesn’t return home one day, and the owner never finds out what really happened.

What You Can Do

Volunteers are needed to:

  1. Trap feral cats
  2. Provide recovery space
  3. Transport feral cats to veterinary clinics for sterilization and to recovery space after sterilization – usually on the same day
  4. Transport feral cats from recovery space back to their colony

The Coalition, through our member group, the Toronto Feral Cat Project, will provide training for those interested in learning to trap feral cats and mentor trappers are provided for you to join to continue with your training. The ultimate goal is to place you on a list where the Coalition could contact you to help with trapping of colony cats when needed.

Recovery space volunteers:  For those interested in providing recovery space – the space would need to be temperature controlled to provide a comfortable environment that traps/carriers could be brought to for the cats to recover from sterilization surgery. Caretakers would visit the space twice daily to care for the cats – give food/water and clean. The cats would need to recover for a period of 1 to 7 days depending on the cat. They would then be removed and returned to their colony.

Transportation volunteers: The best vehicles for transporting feral cats are vans as they can house the traps more comfortably than a car, but you can use whatever vehicle you have. You would need to line your vehicle with a plastic tarp to keep it clean – the Coalition may be able to provide assistance with this.

If you would like to volunteer for any of these positions, please fill out the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition’s online registration form today!

You can also volunteer with Toronto Street Cat’s shelter building team!

Helping Feral Cats in other municipalities

Animal Alliance has helped rescue groups and concerned citizens in a number of other municipalities. While we are not able to provide volunteers for TNR, if you’re having trouble with your municipality and how they treat feral cats, we will help in any way we can.  Contact us for more information.