Annex Gleaner

Media: The Annex Gleaner, October 1998

Mild winter may lead to increase in strays

by Rebecca Caldwell

Walking down an Annex street this summer, chances were good of seeing a handmade sign advertising a missing cat. While the Toronto Humane Society has not yet made a formal analysis of its figures, communications manager Amy White said there has been an increase in reports of missing cats in the Annex area.

In addition to the increase in lost cats, Layla Wilde, founder of the Annex Cat Rescue, reported a record number of strays – those cats without identification that clearly don’t belong to an owner.

“There has been a definite increase in the number of stray cats, but I don’t think we have more of a problem than in other neighbourhoods,” said Wilde. “It’s just more visible here.”

The Annex Cat Rescue, which celebrated its first anniversary this fall, is a local volunteer organization that attempts to educate Annex residents on the problem of stray cats in the area. Consisting of roughly 12 volunteers, the group picks up strays, gets them a clean bill of health from a veterinarian and places them in foster homes until they are adopted. Over the past year, the rescue has saved and adopted approximately 60 cats. There are currently 15 in foster homes. Wilde blames a mild winter for the increase in strays, theorizing that many of the cats who ordinarily would not have survived did in fact live through the winter and produced kittens.

“Educating people about spaying and neutering is one of our primary concerns. A single cat and its offspring can breed up to 400,000 kittens in just five years,” said Wilde.

White said the main source of the problem is a lack of preparation and education on the part of pet owners. “There is a lot of advance work you can do to prevent your cat from going missing, like having a tag or micro-chip, or having the cat spayed or neutered to help prevent it from wandering. If you do take your cat outdoors, you should use a leash or harness.”

“The Annex is a particularly busy location. There is a lot of congested traffic, and when a cat is let outside without any identification it is pretty much impossible to find the cat if it gets lost..”

White points out that it is safer for cats to be kept indoors, noting that the average life-span of an indoor cat is 18 to 21 years, compared to three to five years for an outdoor cat.

The Annex Cat Rescue receives no government funding and operates entirely by donations. People are encouraged to make donations at boxes located in pet stores and veterinary offices in the area. While the average cost of rehabilitating a stray cat is $300, which covers vet bills and pet food, the Rescue charges only an $80 adoption fee. Although vets at the Bathurst-Dupont Animal Hospital and Gerard Mobile Veterinary Services provide care at a reduced rate for the non-profit organization, the Annex Cat Rescue is often strapped for cash. “I wish we could get more local support,” said Wilde. “It’s everyone’s problem, it’s the community’s problem.”

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