Last year, Dwayne Minard adopted two feral kittens. The Oshawa GM worker describes them as “friendly but timid at the start.” Today, he says they have completely changed their personalities and are well-behaved at home.
Feral cats like his are a problem in Oshawa. The number of stray cats is higher here than anywhere else in Durham Region. According to Shelter Stats of Canada, 152 stray cats were taken into Oshawa shelters in 2016, compared to 58 dogs.
On average, 41 per cent of cats taken to Oshawa Animal Services were euthanized between April and September 2014, compared to just four per cent of dogs.
Feral cats may have been abandoned or been born outside without a home, says Sydney Rutherford, a shelter agent at the Humane Society of Durham Region, which is affiliated with the Ontario SPCA.
“We talk about it at work, why are so many stray cats in Oshawa? And we just don’t know,” says Rutherford.
Feral cats are a problem for many reasons. Some are colony cats born outside. Others are abandoned or accidentally escape. These cats face many dangers such as busy roads and habitat destruction.
The Humane Society tries to find homes and adoptive parents for feral cats but it’s not always easy, according to Rutherford.
“Education is key,” she says.
She says these problems can be avoided by educating pet owners about the risks of letting their cat’s outdoors. Educating Durham residents about fundraising, volunteering and ways they can help goes a long way as well, according to Rutherford.
“Pet owners need to educate themselves about their animals,” she says.
Spacing, sizing, budgeting and medical care are all major daily problems faced by workers at the Humane Society of Durham Region.
Helping feral cats in Oshawa is easy for those who want to help, she says. A gesture as small as feeding a stray cat can have positive impacts.
She says every cat at the Humane Society of Durham Region has a chance to find a home because of the no-kill policy and no cat is euthanized if they do not find a home. Cats are taken into foster homes until they are able to be adopted.