We believe all feral cats should not be painted with the same brush. Many cats who are considered feral do have the potential to live comfortably indoors once given the opportunity and the right conditions. There are some TNR (trap, neuter, release) advocacy organizations that recommend to not give these cats a chance at a life safe indoors because they are too “wild” and would therefore be unhappy. These organizations do not spend the time or resources needed to attempt socialization and acclimate to indoor life, with the assessment done while the cat is terrified in a trap. We do not agree with this philosophy. Often it just takes time for a cat from outside to come around indoors, and often times the cat may not really be “feral”. While many groups focus on TNR, which of course is helpful in controlling the outdoor cat population, we do our best to find a way for them to move indoors whenever we have the opportunity.
The feral cats of Toronto are technically an invasive species, due to irresponsible pet ownership. Cats are biologically hardwired hunt and kill wildlife, including many indigenous species of birds and small mammals. They are not biologically constructed to be exposed to the harsh winter weather conditions we experience here in Toronto, the way a squirrel or raccoon is. Placing insulated winter shelters for them helps them to survive the winter, however they still suffer a lot in the brutal cold. When our indoor domestic cats reach their end of life stage we know the ethical solution is humane euthanasia, but when these TNR cats age and become old and frail, there is often no one to aid them to transition to the other side via humane euthanasia, and they suffer alone outside and become targets of predators and die while suffering tremendously. This problem is a product of human exploitation of felines, breeders, and irresponsible cat owners. We believe that all domestic cats should be kept safe indoors. Cats who require outdoor engagement should be supervised on a harness/leash combination, or kept in a secure catio for a limited time. Feral cats (mostly) have the potential to acclimate to indoor life, sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of patience, and of course the ideal environment and conditions. Humans created the feline dystopia that exists out there, and we feel it’s our responsibility to eliminate as much preventable suffering as possible.
“Estimates place the number of homeless cats in Toronto at between 20,000 and 100,000.”Toronto Humane Society
“About two-thirds of the bird deaths were attributed to feral cats, living wild. As birds’ total U.S. population at any given moment has been estimated at around 10 billion to 20 billion, that feral cat toll would probably exceed all mortality from window strikes, roadkill, pesticides, pollution, windmills, and all other unnatural causes combined, except habitat loss and possibly climate change—a staggering thought.” This story appears in the October 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine.