Oshawa city council will decide next month whether to introduce a trap, neuter, and return (TNR) program.
Under this trap, neuter, and return program (TNR) the city’s animal services workers can humanely trap feral cats, then spay or neuter them, and release them back to a colony.
A cat colony is a shelter for cats where they may already live. These colonies are maintained by animal service workers or volunteers.
According to a report for Oshawa city there are currently 15 cat colonies are currently in Oshawa. They are in South Oshawa and in the business district, near Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute for technology (UOIT).
The number of sterile cat’s ranges between seventy-five and one hundred and twenty-five.
According to the public report, it costs thirty dollars a day to have a cat impounded by animal services.
The number of feral cats impounded each year has decreased, 48 in 2014 to 30 in 2015, and down to 15 by 2016.
According to the OSPCA (Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), municipalities such as Toronto, Pickering and Whitby are successfully using this program.
Recently, Oshawa Animal Services proposed this program to council. Councillors asked them to conduct a public survey to show whether the community would want the TNR program here.
The survey was completed this summer and found the community was in full support of this program, according to animal services.
The department then began a smaller version of the TNR program with cats that were treatable before releasing them, and animal services found it to be successful in decreasing the population of feral cats.
They are now proposing a public education plan to teach the community about how the TNR program works and how to handle feral cats.
Whitby uses the TNR program with a public education program. Oshawa city councillor Bob Chapman, agrees that would be effective here as well.
“Education could help as Whitby has a program,” says Chapman. “We need to educate people on feral cats.”
Chapman says animal service staff are currently researching the best way to implement the program in Oshawa.
The SPCA created this program to save feral cats from euthenization, and according to the OSPCA, it has been a success across Ontario.
Monica Seto, manager of the shelter health and wellness with the OSPCA, says when feral cats are taken into shelters they are anti-social and unadoptable which often results in them being euthanized.
Sometimes people take in feral cats and try to rehabilitate them, but the OSPCA wants to discourage this and find better ways to help these cats.
“The best way to take care of these cats, is to provide them with shelter, food and fixing them,” says Monica Seto. “We don’t want them bothering people so we try to keep them hidden in camouflage.”
Most municipalities have their own by laws which have different rules such as “no free roaming” or “no feeding of feral cats.”
Oshawa does not have these by-laws in effect. However, people can only have six cats on their property at one time.
Animal services will return to council in November with its survey results and evidence from the pilot project. It hopes to have this program activated in the city of Oshawa by early 2018.