Frequently Asked Questions
The growth in the number and size of these colonies is due to unrestrained reproduction, which produces litters of kittens for whom homes cannot be found, and who can’t be accommodated in already overcrowded animal shelters.
The cats form close bonds with each other and will often defend the colony’s territory from other cats who might seek to access their food and shelter. “Managed” colonies are those that benefit from the attention of caring humans or “caretakers”. Caretakers feed the cats and provide shelter and veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery, which reduces or eliminates nuisance mating behaviour and prevents more unwanted kittens from being born.
The “Neuter” in Trap-Neuter-Return is the key to solving the pet overpopulation problem because TNR is, above all, a population control program that reduces and controls feral cat numbers through sterilization. TNR programs have been shown to lower animal shelter intake numbers and euthanasia rates. With GTA shelters full, and rescue groups stretched to capacity, TNR is the most effective and humane strategy for dealing with feral cats.
For some excellent resources on TNR, see the TNR section of our Resources page.
Global warming is also believed to be increasing feral cat numbers by extending the warmer part of each year during which they typically reproduce.
Only the spaying or neutering of owned cats can prevent them from straying into the wild and reproducing as feral cats
Only the spaying or neutering of feral cats can reduce the actual number of kittens and cats living in our gardens and on our streets.
In addition to spay or neuter surgery fees, cat rescue groups must also fund the treatment of feral cats for many health issues caused by the unhealthy conditions in which they live. If you would like to make a donation to pay for the spaying or neutering of a feral cat, please contact one of your local cat rescue organizations. We link to some of these from our Cat Rescue Resources page.
If you prefer to help out at an existing colony, there are many other tasks aside from trapping. You can:
- help with feeding
- help to build and maintain shelters
- offer to drive cats to/from the spay/neuter clinic
- offer a room in your house to monitor cats recovering from spay/neuter surgery
- Aren’t people who feed feral cats only making the problem worse?
It’s true that only feeding feral cats does not address overpopulation and neighbourhood nuisance problems. But NOT feeding feral cats isn’t the solution. Even starving cats will mate. And the kittens they produce are not only unwanted; they may also be malnourished and diseased. Spay/neutering is the only effective way to reduce feral cat numbers, but there is no reason that cats should be starved to death while humans get that job done.
In fact, feeding a feral colony is the first step in bringing the colony under control through spay/neutering. Regular feeding puts the cats on a schedule which ensures successful trapping, while a nutritious diet helps them tolerate the stress of surgery and post-operative confinement. Once the cats have been sterilized and returned to the colony, they should continue to be fed, watered and sheltered to keep them healthy. Healthy cats are in everyone’s interest.
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Aren't cats supposed to be outside?
I saw a cat with part of its ear missing. What does that mean?
Ear tipping is a practice to permanently mark a feral cat that has been spayed or neutered.The cat does not feel any pain and it doesn’t affect hearing at all.
Doesn't the city of Toronto take care of these cats?
Are food donations available?
That’s not quite clear at this point.