A different approach to stray and feral cat colonies
PHOTO COURTESY CSR SAUVETAGES FÉLINS CSR Sauvetage Felins endeavours to maintain healthy community cat colonies supported by the public and municipalities. Cat colonies, a more humane and less costly solution, also help control rodents, which are a principal vector for illnesses.
The practice of using animal control services to capture and euthanize abandoned household pets has come under fire by animal rights advocates over the past few years, and more and more cities are open to more humane and effective methods of dealing with the issue.
Local animal rescue groups like CASCA and the West Island SPCA make a difference by saving and rehoming many of the cats abandoned in our neighbourhoods, but that is not sufficient given the number of cats dumped on our streets by irresponsible pet owners.
“There are not enough homes for all those cats, especially with the limits imposed on household pets in some municipalities,” says Louise Desrosiers, president and founder of CSR Sauvetages Félins, a rescue organization that aids cats living outside. They capture and sterilize stray cats. Those that cannot be socialized and put up for adoption are returned to an exterior environment (a colony) where they can be monitored. CSR’s mission is to stabilize community cat colonies and to build awareness both at the public and governmental levels. Community cat colonies have become a permanent presence in municipalities willing to try a different approach, and CSR is working to improve awareness of the advantages of caring for those colonies rather than trying to eliminate them.
Some local municipalities, including Rigaud and Hudson, have recently adopted by-laws that provide resources and protection for feral cat colonies, which is a step in the right direction, but organizations like CSR still have a lot of work to do. Traditional ways of handling abandoned pets are ineffective and costly. Neutering and nurturing local cat colonies is not only more humane, it also saves municipalities significant amounts of money.
Louise is keen on educating the public regarding the important advantages offered by nurturing healthy cat colonies in our communities. “Cats are the ultimate public health weapon. They control rodents, which are a major vector of diseases,” she stresses. “People do not understand the usefulness of stray cats. They tell us to stop feeding them, but the healthier they are, the better they can serve society.”
CSR needs the public to get involved. “We see if there are people that will take care of the cats. We can sterilize all stray cats, but if there is no local support, no people who will take care of them and ensure their well-being, we cannot get involved. We follow up with the people who volunteer and we provide help. We don’t give up on them afterwards.”
Louise feels that CSR is getting some good results. “Some say that most stray cats only get to live for two years, but we have colonies that have been in existence for six years. Our cats don’t suffer from rhinovirus, and they eat well. They are well adjusted to their environment,” Louise says. The difference comes from surveillance, follow-up and care by the volunteers.
To find out more about CSR Sauvetages Félins’ mission or to volunteer, visit their website at www.csrfelins.ca. You can also visit their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/csrfelins) to keep up to date on their latest activities. Donations are welcome.
Photo Legend: CSR Sauvetage Felins endeavours to maintain healthy community cat colonies supported by the public and municipalities. Cat colonies, a more humane and less costly solution, also help control rodents, which are a principal vector for illnesses. (Photo courtesy of CSR Sauvetages Félins.)