Friday, January 21, 2011

The World Wide Feral Problem - Feline Friday

Much has been said recently in both documentaries and various city efforts about the feral cat problem.  Both Cat City, chronicling Toronto's feral cat problem, and Cat Crazed, chronicling Canadian Wide issues and arguments surrounding the feral cat population vs. wild life and particularly talking about Calgary's efforts to fix the issues, have recently been aired on CBC.  Although the statistics can be depressing, there are an estimated 100,000 feral cats roaming Toronto's streets alone, all the media attention has indicated a big step up in the process.  It's hard for people to view cats living wild on the streets as a problem when cats are universally viewed to be "wild" or "outside" pets who shouldn't be kept in your home but instead allowed to roam free like a squirrel or pigeon.  So it's a big step forward for folks to be actually acknowledging there is indeed a problem.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, we're a weird society that cossets and babies our dogs, dressing them and fussing over them, but who turn around and let our cat out the back door to roam the neighborhood every night before we go to sleep or in the morning before we leave the house.  The assumption that somehow they're fully competent  of how to cross the street without being hit by cars, escape from predators like coyotes and stay warm in temperatures where our cities are issuing cold warnings to folks heading outside seems to have magically been attributed to them at some point of time and never worn off.  I've had many street cats through my house over the years, cats who've sometimes lived on the street for years, and let me tell you- they want nothing more than a dish of food, a warm cosy place to sleep and some tummy rubs.  Not one of them has ever begged to be let outside again after moving into my house.  Indeed, some of them have turned into right pudgers because they're constantly worried the dish in front of them is going to be the last and they'll be kicked out to forage for them selves.

I recently received a wonderful email talking about the strides made in Toronto to help deal with the large feral population.  It was inspiring to read what's been done to date, and even more to see how individuals can pitch in for a few hours here and there to help.  I wanted to share some of it with you folks today, there are programs like this popping up all over Canada and the US currently and they're all looking for help.  So get your New Years resolutions in motion and volunteer some of your time for 2011,  together we can make this a problem a thing of the past and help many more kitties get the warm cosy beds, tummy rubs and full food dishes they deserve.

Along with other rescue groups, the City of Toronto, and the Toronto Humane Society, Annex Cat Rescue is a member of the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition. This is a group of rescue minded individuals that meet to discuss the feral problem and how we can work together for the ferals of Toronto.
As a result of our combined efforts, the city opened a free feral spay/neuter clinic in Scarborough this year and the THS has recently opened their own free feral clinic which runs 1-2 times a month on Sundays.  The THS also runs shelter building workshops once a month where colony caretakers can come out to meet other caretakers, work together in building insulated shelters, and take a shelter home.
We currently have over 40 cats in Annex Cat Rescue sponsored colonies that need to be TNR’d (trap, neutered and released).  As you can imagine, trapping and recovering these cats one at a time would take well over a year to do.  During that time more and more kittens will be born, putting pressure on the foster system and resulting in more cats to be trapped and vetted.
The only practical solution is to start a mass trapping program, where 5-10 cats are trapped at a time from the same area.  Unfortunately right now, Annex Cat Rescue does not have the manpower to do this.
We desperately need volunteers that can help us with this project. You don’t need to be a current trapper to get involved.  We need help in many areas and training/supplies will be provided.
Some of the volunteer opportunities include:
-recovering cats after surgery
-driving to and from surgery appointments
-organization and planning
-promotion and fundraising
     The majority of the trapping sessions will take place on the weekend in the                          Annex and Little Italy areas.
We will be holding a meeting/information session on Saturday January 29th at 1pm at the The Humane Society.  The The Humane Society will be holding their shelter building workshop from 10am-2pm that day, so we could like to have ACR volunteers come out to help build some shelters for an hour and then meet for another hour to strategize our mass trapping project.
If you would like to become involved or have any questions please contact Heather at  Please feel free to pass this along to friends and family as we could use as many hands as possible.


  1. All my cats are neutered, apart from my new kitten as she is too young, but i don't let her out on her own yet, and will book her in as soon as she comes of age. I think all owners should get their pets sorted, it saves a whole lot of trouble later!
    Think the volunteer idea is great :D

    Also, i am going to do some shameless promotion here, my best friend has just started a blog called 'Kitties and Cookies' maybe you could check it out and maybe follow her. Thanks. :D