So you have a stray cat in your area. What can you do?
So many people come to
us when they find a stray cat but, like most rescues, we are usually too full to take on the financial and foster requirements to help every cat. But you can still save that cat by doing the following:
Can you pick him/her up??
If you can pick him/her up, then the first step is taking him/her to a vet to scan for a microchip. Make sure the vet scans all over as microchips can migrate. (Vets shouldn’t be charging for this service)
If there is no microchip then you should get him/her fixed and vaccinated. Follow the options in the “Spay/Neuter/Vaccinate” section
(Note: If the cat is very friendly, then s/he may be lost so take a picture and post on helpinglostpets.com to help find the owner.)
If you can’t pick him/her up, then you will need to trap him/her. You have a few options in this regard:
Take the TNR (trap, neuter, release) workshop offered by Toronto Feral Cat Project. It is only 3 hours on a Saturday and $20 and in return you get free spay/neuter, food and access to humane traps. And you will also meet many people that you can network with. Check www.feraltoronto.com for the next workshop. If your cat is friendly enough to be adopted then you do not have to release him/her. (Don’t wait until you find a stray cat to take this course. )
Contact and register your cat(s) with the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition at www.feraltoronto.com/survey and request assistance with trapping. (There is a good chance that they will tell you to take the workshop because they are so busy but you may be able to find someone who can assist.)
Contact a local cat rescue that promotes TNR. Some rescues, like Urban Cat Relief or Action Volunteer for Animals, may be able to assist with trapping but don’t be surprised if they are unable because their resources are low.
There are several options for spay/neuter/vaccination. If you took the TNR workshop mentioned above, then you can book a free spay/neuter with the Feral Recovery Program. The other options are:
The Toronto Street Cats also have a free spay/neuter clinic twice a month so check out the next available one at www.torontostreetcats.com/spayclinics.
Check out the Toronto Humane Society for upcoming specials. They are a low cost spay/neuter clinic but often have $20 dollar neuter or $35 spay offerings during certain months. However, those appointments get booked very quickly so don’t wait once you hear about these specials.
Request if a rescue is willing to get you a rescue rate at their vet.
See the list of the low cost spay/neuter clinics below. Keep in mind that there is usually a waiting list for these clinics but call them all as sometimes they have openings from cancellations.
After the spay/neuter
If the cat is not friendly and you need to release him/her after neutering:
Always release him/her where you got him/her from unless you have reason to believe s/he will be in danger. (also register him/her as a colony at the Toronto Feral Cat Project website so they can be aware and make sure that a nearby colony caretaker can help with the feeding) If it is not safe to release him/her back then you must talk to the Toronto Feral Cat Project or Toronto Street Cats to discuss options. Moving a feral cat from his/her territory can be a death sentence and be done solely as a last resort as they do not adapt well to this type of change.
Also please attend and/or purchase feral cat shelters from www.torontostreetcats.com/shelterbuilding/. These shelters will make a difference between life and death during the winter for these ferals. They cost $15 each completely built. Please be sure to supply the feral(s) with food and water all year round.
If the cat is friendly and can be adoptable with a little socialization:
You have two options:
Foster the cat yourself and work with a rescue to network him/her and to screen potential adopters. (Please do not expect rescues to take in your stray cat as most rescues are spending all their resources pulling cats in abuse and euthanasia situations.)
Take him/her to a local low-kill shelter. (If the cat needs a lot of socialization, then call the shelter first to see if they are willing to do that. Some will not have the resources to do so and it may mean a sad fate for your cat. If some socialization is needed and the shelter is unable to do so, then it may mean that you may have to take in the cat short term to get him/her to the adoptable stage. Some cats come around very quickly while others may need some more time.
We are providing a list of some of the low-kill animal shelters in the region. It is not inclusive but if a shelter will not commit to saying that it is low-kill to you, then it is most likely high kill and they will probably put down the cat shortly after you bring him/her in. So please be very careful where you take the cat. Do not take the cat to the OSPCA or Hamilton Animal Services as they are very high kill.
Low kill local shelters
Toronto Humane Society www.torontohumanesociety.com
Vaughan Animal Services www.vaughan.ca/services/residential/animal_services/Pages/default.aspx
Humane Society of Durham Region http://web.humanedurham.com/
Oakville Humane Society www.omhs.ca
Etobicoke Humane Society www.etobicokehumanesociety.com
Georgian Triangle Humane Society http://gths.ca/
Georgina Animal Shelter www.georgina.ca/living-here/animal-control
Toronto Cat Rescue Stray Cat Program (not a shelter but worth mentioning as an option)