Mississauga cat owners urged to keep their pets indoors to save the birds

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Published September 20, 2022 at 11:41 am

Cat owners in Mississauga are being urged to keep their pets indoors or, failing that, build Whiskers his very own outdoor enclosed patio in an effort to save the lives of birds.

Animal Services officials with the City of Mississauga say another option if cat owners want to get their feline companions some fresh air is to leash them up and take them for a walk.

The bottom line, though, is that City officials want to save the lives of birds and small animals that are often hunted and killed by outdoor cats.

In getting their message across to cat owners, officials note that according to Nature Canada, cats have directly contributed to the extinction of more than 30 species of birds, making them the number one killer of birds in the country.

“The City of Mississauga is urging cat owners to supervise their cats if they are allowed outdoors. Cats can often disrupt natural environments when allowed to roam free and can be threatening to birds, smaller animals and other wildlife like reptiles and amphibians,” a City spokesperson said in a news release via email today (Sept. 20).

Animal Services officers in Mississauga have received 32 calls so far this year of cats roaming unsupervised outdoors. In 2021, they received 57 such calls.

That’s far too many calls, especially when added to the number of unreported roaming cats, City officials say.

“Domestic cats that are allowed unsupervised outdoor time can be threat a to birds in Canada, with millions of bird attacks happening each year,” they say. “Cats are equipped with sharp teeth and claws and while they might be domesticated, they have a natural curiosity and desire to hunt and kill. Similar to the way they play with toys, cats can exhibit predatory behaviour often resulting in injuring or killing wildlife.”

In addition, the City notes, cat feces can also transmit and spread deadly diseases like rabies, feline leukemia, parasites and Toxoplasmosis.

Animal Services officials say roaming cats create another issue as well.

“While not all outdoor cats are malicious or looking to cause havoc, when they’re roaming they can be mistaken as a stray or lost and picked up by caring residents and brought to shelters or rescue organizations outside of the city,” officials say. “The best way you can ensure you never lose your precious feline friend is to make sure they are microchipped and supervised at all times when outdoors.”

The City encourages cat owners to keep their pets indoors. However, if that isn’t good enough for cats who want or need more outdoor excitement, owners can consider building an enclosed cat patio for their four-legged pals, officials say.

“If this isn’t possible, supervise your cat and use a leash while outdoors to protect it from busy streets, other cats, weather, injury or other predators. This also protects other wildlife from being injured or killed.”

Cat owners are also urged to:

  • spay/neuter cats
  • get their pets microchipped, renew or get a pet licence from Animal Services
  • make sure vaccines and shots are up to date
  • keep litter boxes inside

For those having issues with outdoor cats visiting their property, they’re urged to call Animal Services at 905-896-5858 to file a complaint.

Officials add that residents can keep roaming cats off their property by:

  • removing food
  • installing motion-activated sprinklers
  • using scent repellents like coffee grounds or lemon
  • soaking garden soil with water
  • using physical deterrents like rocks or mulch in gardens
  • covering sandboxes when not in use

Mississauga officials note they have a “trap, neuter, return management program” that helps control feral cat colonies in the city.

“Studies have shown through this process the populations will slowly decrease. This is the most humane way to address feral cat populations as these cats are used to living outdoors due to being lost, abandoned or born feral. Most feral cats are afraid of people and won’t adapt to being a pet or living in a shelter,” officials say.

For more information on feral cats in Mississauga, visit the City’s website.

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