Please give me a couple of minutes to talk about the homeless cats roaming the streets of the world and in our case, the City of Montreal and the province of Quebec.

Many people, especially politicians, try to ignore the estimated one million plus, homeless cats living in the City of Montreal. As they generally hide and are nocturnal, the numerous cats out there are not always seen. Cats that were born outside avoid people and those who were dumped beg to be taken in.

People hate that they go in their gardens, go through their trash, and beg for food to survive.

They don’t care that the problem was created by people, they only want the cats to be gone.

We are a throw away society.

When people get tired of their clothing, their shoes, their cars, whatever, they throw them away.

When people get tired of their pet, be it a dog, cat, rabbit, budgie, they get rid of it.

When I was a child, dogs used to run free. We had a little dog and he would go out in the morning and come back in the evening.
But dogs bite and at a certain point, dogs were no longer allowed to run free. Dogs had to be on leashes, kept in the house, only allowed out with their guardians. Dogs are more popular and more produced. After the 2nd world war, governments encouraged farmers whose crops had failed to start puppy mills because the demand for puppies was growing in the post war times. Farmers stuffed dogs into chicken coops, cages and had government support to start this horrific practice.
What about cats? Cats are considered the most popular and the most disposed of pet. They also can multiply at incredible rates. Why don’t they get the notoriety that dogs get? Good question. The big organizations that take in millions and millions of dollars, do not address the crisis of homeless cats.

As if there are not enough puppy mills or homeless cats in their own backyards, they go to South Korea to rescue dogs that were slated for the meat market. While meat markets are beyond repugnant, we have our own markets here, maybe not to eat the dogs but to market them for the pet stores. But again, what about the cats? No mention of cats in any of the big name animal protectors.
Let me tell you who does try to help the homeless cats. Then maybe you can look at the situation of the homeless cats in a different light. Many people think that cats will go back to their primal instinct if they are thrown outside and left to their own devices. While it is true that cats can care for themselves better than dogs, discarded cats are doomed to a miserable horrible existence on the streets. They are prone to starvation, freezing, suffer from the extreme heat, die of thirst and deliberate acts of cruelty.

People do have allergies to cats, but many people just use that as an excuse to dump their cats.
The people who care for these homeless cats are small rescue groups of 3 or 4 people or individuals who use their own money to get homeless cats sterilized to try to curtail the overpopulation. Some municipalities are forced to give small amounts of money to get the homeless cats sterilized to get services from one of Montreals animal protection organization, but the problem has grown exponentially. Some people truly hate cats. They consider them vermin and want to have them all destroyed. While that may sound like the best solution for some people, the reality of the situation is that that method that has been used But it does not work. But still, we as a society continue to use methodology that does not work, because that is what we have always done. One would hope that the big organizations that are constantly asking for money and run on millions and millions of dollars would take this issue seriously. But they don’t. While homeless cats roam around their building in Montreal they go off to foreign countries to deal with other animal issues instead of addressing the problem in their own back yard. The method of Trapping, then neutering, Releasing and Maintaining Cats was first developed in Europe going back to the 50’s. The practice called TNRM was first seriously implemented in the United States in the 1970’s. Alley Cat Alleys is at the for front of this movement.
But the practice is arduous, time consuming and slow. Not something our society is comfortable with.
We want things done fast. We want immediate results.

But I feel that we have to look at those who get into the trenches. These people spend their free hours, or retirement years, trying to deal with a problem that neither government or large animal groups, on the whole, are interested in addressing. Individuals, or small groups, pick up these cats, one by one, have them vetted, neutered and then cared for after their medical treatments. They continue to care for them outside insuring they are fed and maintained. But at the same time that we neuter these cats, many people abandon their cats outside with impunity. Many of these cats are unsterilized. Municipalities draft by laws stating abandonment will be fined, but then do not implement their by-laws. They say they can’t prove it even when they are provided with name, address and telephone number of those people who dump animals. If I receive a traffic ticket from the city, how is it they can always track me down, but when someone leaves an animal in an apartment or takes a cat out in a foreign area and dumps it, and it is known that they have done it, the municipalities are too timid to do anything about it? And then these same municipalities boast that they care about animals. While I am writing this, I have just received a call that someone who has just picked up a cat that someone left behind when they moved. The people who discarded this cat, moved and thew their indoor unsterilized cat outside. They said the cat was a pain in the ass and so they tossed it away with no thought. And although the people on the street know who it was, they don’t want to give out their name. An indoor cat, who has never been outside is now in traffic with no defences. He is also unsterilized so he would be impregnating other unsterilized cats. The neighbour took the cat in temporarily, and a rescue person will be getting him sterilized. Those people who left him behind should be brought to task. All one has to do is call 311 and report this situation anonymously.
Did you know there is a fine of up to $125,000 for animal abandonment in the province of Quebec?

This type of behaviour will continue if people are allowed to continue this cruel, inhumane behaviour with impunity. If these people have children, they are teaching them that animals are irrelevant and if you don’t want them anymore, just put them out with the garbage.

And so this behaviour continues.

It becomes impossible to curtail the misery of the homeless cat, or to assure neighbourhoods that efforts are made to control cat overpopulation. By-laws are not implemented and people who have no respect for living creatures are allowed to buy them and then discard them like trash.

I am not saying you have to like cats, I am just saying that they are living, breathing creatures, that have been domesticated for us. It is not their doing that they are outside. It is our doing.

Shelley Schecter
President Educhat
www.educhat.ca

The City of Côte Saint-Luc adopted its first ever cat licensing by-law at a meeting of council on Monday, October 22 at City Hall. It will come into effect on November 1, 2012.

As the city's official liaison to the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC), I am pleased to say that work on this by-law began last spring and represents an important chapter in the area of animal welfare in the community. In the two years since the creation of the CSLCC, a team of volunteers have worked tirelessly to rescue and sterilize abandoned and feral cats, find permanent or foster families for homeless kittens and educate the community at large.

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Last winter the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee, which I proudly founded two years ago, were having a meeting at City Hall when all of sudden these beautiful sounds started coming from the council chamber. Some of our members walked out, only to see conductor Joseph Milo and The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra rehearsing. Cognizant of the fact the city has an agreement whereby the orchestra rehearses at City Hall at no cost and in return performs one benefit, we asked Joseph and his wife Lucy Ravinsky, the orchestra's executive director and general manager, whether they would consider doing so for our Committee.

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