Friday, July 22, 2011

Controlling cat over population- Feline Fridays

My mom will tell you, should you ever end up chatting to her, that when she was growing up dogs were treated differently.  They ran amuck without their owners and there were definitely feral dogs who roamed the streets.  Fast forward to today where opinions have changed so much that not only do dog owner not let their beloved beasties roam without them, but they also worry about them home alone (doggy day care), worry about their sense of fashion (doggy track suit anyone?), and may even buy a speciality purse to carry them around in.

Sadly this wealth of worry has not become popular for the household cat.  Thereby allowing a ridiculous overpopulation of cats in most cities.  So it made me happy to see the TAS (Toronto Animal Services) update in my local paper the other week.  They're certainly not the only folks paving the way, but it's nice to see statistics laid out for those who hadn't thought of the issue prior.

The City of Toronto plays a very active role in addressing the cat overpopulation problem.
-All cats adopted from City animal centres are sterilized prior to adoption (this includes kittens).
-Toronto Animal Services (TAS) operates a low cost spay/neuter clinic for cats owned by residents of Toronto.  A total of 311 cats were sterilized in 2010.
-TAS partners with many local veterinarians to aid in achieving the goal of sterilizing all cats prior to adoption.  A total of 397 cats were sterilized at external clinics in 2010.
-TAS partners with PetSmart stores which provide additional adoption opportunities for our cats by housing them in their stores.
-TAS operates a free spay/neuter clinic for feral cat colonies in Toronto.  Cat colony caretakers trap the cats, bring them to the shelter for sterilization and then return the cats to their colonies after surgery.
-TAS is an active member of the Toronto Feral Cat Trap-Neuter-Return Coalition (TFCC), which was formed in May 2010.  We are currently working on sterilizing feral cats from a target area selected by the TFCC- another way to decrease the number of cats entering our animal centres.
-Next steps include initiating the Meet-Your-Match program developed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  It is a way to assess cats' personalities and match them to their  new owner to ensure a long and happy relationship.  We are also working on education of the public to promote the intrinsic value of cats, and to promote responsible pet ownership and care.

Obviously it's a drop in the bucket, and there are many other groups doing similar things in Toronto to help, but it's amazing progress.  Much of it has only come to be in the past year or two, and it shows great promise for the future.  They're promoting the intrinsic value of cats!  I'm sold.

Many similar or even more ambitious initiatives are happening all over the states and Canada, and it makes me thinking we're finally making strides to changing peoples attitudes towards cats.  Let me know what's happening in your neck of the woods!

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