Though it may not be apparent as its citizens go about their daily lives, Toronto has a significant population of homeless cats. There are at least 50,000 strays (cats that have wandered from home and become lost or cats that have been abandoned by people) and ferals (a cat born on the street to strays). That number is only a best estimate as there are no actual statistics on homeless cats available. (Cats, alas, are terrible at filling out census forms). Each stray cat is capable of contributing many more to that number if it reproduces unchecked. Through its Trap-Neuter/Spay-Return program (TNR), Annex Cat Rescue is doing its utmost to keep that number from growing, and even reducing it.
Stray and feral cats most often congregate in colonies. ACR volunteers feed these colonies and trap these cats, often one by one, to manage their numbers and to give the cats a better quality of life. Once a cat is humanely caught in a live-animal trap, it is brought to a veterinarian where it is spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Since adult feral cats typically can’t be domesticated, after a few days of recovery in a safe place, the cat is returned to its colony. Any young kittens that are trapped are placed in foster homes, where they are socialized and eventually adopted out. Many of the kittens up for adoption on this site have come to ACR from these colonies of homeless cats. Once rescued, they will never have to live on the street again.
Because cats can breed as early as five months, and do breed prolifically, every individual cat trapped and spayed or neutered means dozens of feral kittens (and their eventual offspring) will not be added to the already huge stray/feral population in Toronto. Each and every cat trapped and spayed or neutered makes a difference, both to the population explosion and to the individual cat, who will now not have litter after litter, year after year. The vaccinations also provide protection against illness. TNR makes the colonies more manageable for volunteers to feed.
ACR always needs volunteers for its TNR program. Volunteers set and monitor traps, then transport the cats (in traps) to and from the vet or recovery home where a cat can regain enough strength to be returned to its territory again.
There are many good resources available in Toronto for feral cats.
Register for a Caring for a Feral Cat Colony Workshop (a two-hour, one-day workshop that is web-based) through Community Cats to learn how to take care of the cat(s) properly, how to trap them safely, and access to free spay/neuter services at either the THS or TAS. Also available are post-spay/neuter recovery space, access to free cat food when available, low cost shelters and traps that can be loaned to you.
Please visit Toronto Feral Cat Coalition to find out how you can help the feral cats in your community.
Learn more about community cats in the recent study conducted by The Toronto Humane Society.
Studies have shown that Trap-Neuter-Return is the most successful method, is operated at lowest cost to local government and residents, and provides the best life for cats themselves.