I recently read postings on the “Transcona, And Proud of It” and “North Kildonan — Your Neighbourhood, Your Priorities” Facebook pages. Surprising to me were the number of comments about lost and found cats.
The passionate responses ranged from people who feel cats have the right to roam freely to those who argued cats need to stay indoors.
Why are there so many lost and found cats?
Pet cats may get lost when they are left to roam on their own. Stealthy house cats have been known to escape through an open door. Yet, these approachable cats are considered strays when found without identifying tags or tattoos.
Feral cats, which have never had owners are wary of humans. They gather where there is available food, around dumpsters or houses where people feed them. As feral cats are difficult to adopt out, they are sometimes euthanized.
Whether stray or feral, if cats are not spayed or neutered, they contribute to cat overpopulation. According to the Winnipeg Humane Society’s website, “Cat overpopulation is a problem all citizens of Winnipeg must solve together. Rescue groups and shelters simply cannot do it alone.”
An un-neutered male pet cat who’s allowed to roam may contribute to the feral cat population, continuing the cycle of homeless cats. An unspayed female pet may have kittens that need to be given away.
Some pet owners keep their cats indoors at all times, which may increase their life expectancy. Roaming cats are at risk of getting hit by a vehicle, being injured in cat fights, getting lost, catching fleas and illnesses. There are fines for letting a cat run at large or not having a cat on a leash.
Roaming cats tend to upset neighbours, too. Cats defecating in gardens, spraying, upsetting other pets, and stalking songbirds are some of the common complaints. To deter cats from entering their yards some people squirt them with a water gun; others are not so kind.
To give a cat outdoor exercise, use a cat harness or stay with them in a supervised environment, like your backyard.
It is a City of Winnipeg by-law that cats need to be licensed and must wear the tag. It’s also a good idea to have your cat tattooed. If a cat is identifiable, the chances of it being returned to its rightful owner are improved if it is found.
If you find a cat that appears to be somebody’s pet, call the Winnipeg Humane Society’s Lost & Found line at 204-982-2025. You can also post the description on the “Winnipeg Lost Cat Alert” Facebook page.
The Winnipeg Humane Society offers a trap, neuter, release program for feral cats. They only ask for your willingness to trap cats and a minimum $20 donation for the surgery. The cat is released afterward but will be unable to reproduce.
If cat owners spay, neuter, tag or tattoo, and prevent their cats from roaming, and kind citizens help out feral cats, perhaps the incidence of lost cats and the population of homeless cats will decrease.