Residents Push Mississauga to Address Feral Cat Problem
Mississauga residents urged the city to address its im-purr-fect approach to the community’s feral cat problem at a recent city council meeting.
Volunteer and animal advocate Nikki Hayes appeared before council to urge the city to establish a more effective and encompassing Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) program to help control the local population of feral and stray cats.
“Their predicament is 100 per cent our fault,” Hayes said. “The fact that they are starving and are sick is our fault.”
Hayes said it is estimated that there are approximately 70,000 stray, feral and homeless cats on the loose in the community. Hayes pointed out that in seven years, just one unspayed cat and her offspring can produce upwards of 420,000 kittens.
Homeless cats are cats that once had a home and were abandoned. Stray cats have never had a home, whereas feral cats are unsocial and live in non-residential areas like construction sites and factories; they are typically the offspring of cats who had contact with humans.
Hayes says the number of stray and feral cats in Mississauga represents a “huge disconnect” as it is illegal to leave your animals outside.
“How did we let this happen?” she asked during her presentation to council. “Mississauga is terribly behind and out of touch.”
Hayes proposed that an animal advisory committee be established to begin the process of restructuring the current system in place to provide greater transparency and accountability. She also appealed to council to provide immediate funding, to the tune of $11,000 for a spay and neuter clinic.
Ruth Seepaul, another local volunteer and animal advocate, echoed Hayes’ call to action.
“We need a colony situation,” she said, “where we can monitor and absorb the feral cats that we have.”
Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito, who seemed to take exception to the implication that the city of Mississauga did not care about the animals or was not doing enough to address the issue, spoke to some of the issues Hayes raised, particularly where the bylaw concerning keeping pets contained was concerned.
“People ignore the bylaw,” Saito said. “As long as you have irresponsible pet owners, you will have animals -- cats and dogs -- roaming.”
Saito supported the push to have a better system for TNR in place but said a more ‘fulsome’ report from city staff was needed before funding could be allocated.
Enforcement director, Sam Rogers, noted that TNR funding is included in the 2021 business plan but when urged by Saito to find other ways to support other TNR programs in the meantime, Rogers agreed to look into it and come back to council with a new report.