You may know Pharrell Williams. Probably Will Ferrell too. But have you heard the term “feral cats” before? If you aren’t quite sure what a feral cat is, don’t worry, you aren’t alone!
A “feral” cat is a cat who has reverted in some form or another to a wild state. Feral cats originate from former domestic cats who were lost or abandoned and then learned to live outdoors or in environments involving little human contact. In the Greater Toronto Area alone there are estimated to be over 100,000 feral cats roaming the streets. Now that’s a lot of cats!
Luckily, the Ontario SPCA has created three innovative programs to help the kind people that care for the feral cats of our communities rain or shine! The first is a Feral Cat Trap Depot Program where the Society loans out cat traps to feral cat caretakers at no charge. The hope is that these cats will undergo the TNR program (Trap, Neuter and Return) and will rejoin the stray cat population without the possibility of having more babies.
The second is a Free Feral Food Bank which provides a steady support of food to help out the feral cat caretakers. Without this program, the dedicated caretakers use their own money to personally care for these cats that have unfortunately been abandoned by our society.
And last but not least, the Ontario SPCA and their volunteers build feral cat shelters for feral cat caretakers so that they can provide a safe, warm place for feral cats during our cold, harsh winters. We know how cold it can be for us (who have warm houses to deal with the extreme temperatures), so you can understand why the need for these cats to have a warm place to call their own is so important. No one wants to be stuck out in a blizzard with no where to take shelter!
So why are the numbers of feral cats so high? We think it’s from a lack of spaying and neutering. To give you some perspective, in seven years, just one unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce 80,000 kittens!
Shelters across the country are constantly taking in animals that are unfixed. According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, 25,000 cats and over 8,500 dogs were spayed or neutered while at shelters in 2013 (please note: this does not include statistics from the Ontario SPCA).
It’s been proven over the years that spaying and neutering pets can really make a difference in the number of homeless pets on our streets. For example, since the Ontario SPCA Marion Vernon Memorial Animal Clinic opened in Barrie in 2009, the Ontario SPCA Barrie Branch has seen shelter cat intake reduce by 53%! In six years, that’s definitely a lot less homeless pets on the streets! Overall at Ontario SPCA Branches across the province, shelter intake has reduced by 27%.
Doing your part to help manage the current pet overpopulation crisis makes such a large impact that it can be seen in communities across Ontario. Imagine what we could accomplish if everyone spayed and neutered their pets?
Want to learn more about the importance of fixing your pet? Visit fixyourpet.ca – it’s the kindest thing you can do!