Hamilton Animal Services is a proud member of the Hamilton Community Cat Network (HCCN). The HCCN is a collaborative of stakeholders committed to healthy, safe and wanted cats. The HCCN is working together to reduce the number of Community Cats in Hamilton.
Community Cats are unowned cats living in Hamilton neighbourhoods and other cities. This type of cat includes stray and feral cats. Stray Cats may be lost and abandoned pets that could be suitable for a home. Feral Cats have had little or no contact with people, are fearful and generally unsuitable for a home.
What to do with Community Cats
The feeding of cats is prohibited in Hamilton unless you are an approved, registered Colony Cat Caregiver of the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) program through the HBSPCA. This program is intended to reduce the numbers of community cats and involves trapping them, having them spayed or neutered, vaccinated and returned to their community. Caregivers are trained in best practices and guidelines for the health of the cats and community. TNVR is the most common, effective and humane way to manage and reduce street cat populations in communities throughout North America.
TNVR 101 Workshops are held monthly throughout the City of Hamilton. Please contact the HCCN for dates/locations.
- Do not bring feral community cats into Hamilton Animal Services unless they are sick, injured, or aggressive cats that could pose a danger to the public.
- Cats can reproduce quicker than any feasible removal process.
- Removing unowned feral community cats will only create vacant space for other cats to move in and replace them. Sterilized cats will ‘hold’ the area while attrition occurs.
- Feeding community cats that have not been spayed/neutered can result in larger litter sizes that increase the community cat population.
- TNVR stabilizes the size of the colony by eliminating new litters of kittens being born.
- Registered trained caregivers who are permitted to feed have committed to ensuring the population is sterilized in order to reduce the numbers.
Why are there so many Community Cats?
Many cats aren’t fixed (spayed or neutered). This results in more cats than there are homes for them, leading these cats to often end up on the street. One female cat, as young as 5 months old, can have an average 3 litters of kittens a year. That might be up to 15 kittens, and the cycle carries on.
How to reduce the number of unowned cats
Take care of your cat
- Spay/neuter and vaccinate your cat.
- Microchip your cat. (Don’t forget! Keep your microchip information updated.)
- Keep your cat safe inside. Remember, owned cats are not allowed to roam unsupervised outside. (City By-law # 12-031).
- If you are having difficulty caring for your cat, reach out for help to your local SPCA.
Fix community cats
- Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return (TNVR) Program
- Community cats are humanely trapped by volunteers and taken to a veterinarian.
- The cats are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and the left ear tipped.
- Left ear tipping is the universal sign that a community cat has been spayed/neutered and vaccinated.
- After a short recovery, the cats are returned to their original territory.
- Community cats should not be brought to Hamilton Animal Services unless they are sick or injured.
Benefits of the TNVR Program
- A gradual decrease in the numbers of community cats.
- Improved health of community cats.
- Reduced nuisance behaviours such as fighting, yowling and spraying.
- Reduce risk of rabies spread.
- Reduced risks for birds’ and other small mammal lives.
Volunteer to help Community Cats
- Volunteer caregivers sign up to care for groups of cats living in colonies.
- Colony caregivers are registered with the HBSPCA.
- They commit to getting the cats fixed and vaccinated through the TNVR program.
- They follow best practices for feeding, sheltering and monitoring.
- Not a colony caregiver? Become a volunteer and help trap, transport, recover, educate and more!
Volunteer caregivers have access to:
- Training in community cat care and trapping
- Health and safety guidelines caring for and trapping cats
- Donated food and outdoor shelters
- A network of caregivers and supporters
- Scheduled low cost spay neuter
Contact the Hamilton Community Cat Network
How to deter community cats from your property
There are several easy environmentally safe solutions that will help to keep cats out of your gardens, flower beds, and away from your house:
- Wash outside doors or walls. Get rid of the cat urine spray or the cats will return to refresh the scent. Vinegar, baking soda or cornstarch are good options. Avoid bleach.
- Clean up. Clutter provides homes to rodents which will attract stray cats to your property.
- Make digging difficult. Cats love soft soil to dig for a litter spot, so make it unattractive. Before you plant, line flower beds with chicken wire the vegetation will grow through the wire and will prevent cats from digging.
- Use mulch that’s uncomfortable. Prickly cuttings from holly, rose clippings, pine cones, or other uncomfortable material helps to deter cats. It’s also environmentally friendly.
- Avoid attractive plants. Cats love mint, and may be attracted to some types of honeysuckle. Instead, plant vegetation like rue, lavender, pennyroyal, Coleus canina, and lemon thyme throughout the garden.
- Use scents that are repulsive to cats. Cats have a strong sense of smell; you can make your own natural cat repellent. Rub a sliced onion around fence posts or deck chairs. Place used coffee grounds in your flower beds or garden that will keep most critters out.
- Tip for keeping cats off of cars. Office supply stores carry floor mats/chair mats designed for carpets that have a textured underside with little rubber nubs. Place these mats upside down on the hood, trunk, or roof of your car. Cats don’t like the spiky feel of these mats and will avoid walking or resting on their surface.
Is an owned neighbour's cat causing an issue on your property?
The Responsible Animal Ownership By-law (PDF, 963 KB) prohibits owned cats from roaming off your property.
If an owned neighbouring cat is causing nuisance issues on your property, you can contact Animal Services at 905-574-3433 to file a complaint. Animal Services may start with a warning letter to the cat owner. If the problem persists, further enforcement action can be taken.
Owned cats roaming interfere with and contribute to the community cat population. Pet cats should be kept safe from many outdoor dangers including injury or death by cars or predators. Hamilton residents are encouraged to ensure their cat is spayed/neutered, identified by microchip and buy a cat registration tag from the City of Hamilton to help their lost or strayed cat return to their homes should they become lost.
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