Community Cat Program
What is a community cat?
Community cats, also known as feral cats, are unowned animals who don’t make good family pets. They live outdoors and are generally not socialized or friendly with people. Community cats tend to gather in groups with their feline families in outdoor colonies. The growth in the number of cats and number of colonies has come to a crisis point and the solution is unmanageable in a shelter environment.
There are four services to support these types of cats in order to combat the overpopulation crisis in Kawartha Lakes.
Trap Neuter Return Manage
Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage is a collaborative, humane and effective approach to community cats. TNRM helps to stabilize community cat (feral) populations, increase community cats’ welfare, reduces shelter/rescue intake, saves donor’s dollars, and helps the shelter focus on adoptions for homeless pets. This program will help to create a safer community for pets and people and promote public health by reducing the number of unvaccinated and uncared for cats.
The Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes (HSKL) will guide Colony Caretakers to ensure that feral cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, ear-tipped and returned to their outdoor homes. Once returned, the caregiver will provide regular care for the cats. Friendly kittens and adults can be rehomed via colony care takers, shelters or rescues.
Removing cats from a location will only temporarily reduce the number in a given area as other cats will move into the available territory to take advantage of the resources that attracted the first group. This is known as the vacuum effect and those new cats will continue to breed. TNRM provides a humane and long-term solution that is more effective than trap-and-kill.
TNRM also involves a cat colony caretaker who provides food and monitors the cats' wellbeing as well as identifying and quickly trapping new intact cats. TNRM has been shown to be the most humane and efficient way of stabilizing community cat populations. By sterilizing at least 75% of cats in a group within a six-month period (and continuing to sterilize at least 75% of the remaining intact cats), TNRM helps to stabilize the population of community cats and, over time, to reduce the number of cats. The goal is to sterilize all cats present and monitor the location for any intact newcomers.
How do I access free spay neuter surgeries to help a colony of cats?
The City of Kawartha Lakes and HSKL are teaming up with other organizations to deliver a pilot program to support Colony Care Takers to deliver TNRM services in the City of Kawartha Lakes region. Call the Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes and ask to speak to the Community Cat Coordinator to find out more details 705-878-4618. This person will go through various questions to assess the specific colony’s situation and need for support. Once all the requirements are identified and if the resources are available there will be a plan made for support. The Kawartha Community Cat Program is a well-thought-out TNRM service that follows industry best practices, proven science and standards because the cats and our community deserve our best.
How to get started:
- Call HSKL to discuss the colony 705-878-4618 (note - information will be shared with the City of Kawartha Lakes)
- Create a TNRM plan with HSKL
- Complete application for services
- Receive approval of the TNRM plans
- Complete the online course from Community Cats Toronto and sign the Caretaker Agreement. By signing the Caretaker Agreement the Colony Caretaker acknowledges that the colony information (including, but not limited to, location of colony) will be shared with the City of Kawartha Lakes and other partnered organizations.
The Colony Caretaker is responsible for the trapping and ongoing care and management of their specific colony. The Colony Caretaker can also find a HSKL partner organization to help with the trapping.
All applications are subject to review by the Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes and must be approved and a plan must be set into place before any trapping begins. Note: this program has limited funding so all activities that you wish to be reimbursed for must be approved for PRIOR to action.
What cats qualify for free spay/neuter surgery?
Feral cats that are returning to their colony are eligible for spay or neuter surgery. Cats that are pets or cats that are going to be rehomed from colonies are not eligible for the free surgeries. Cats that are considered “barn cats” and their population is getting out of hand are eligible for the program with a qualified colony caretaker. The cat colony must be located within Kawartha Lakes.
How can TNRM organizations help?
Call the Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes and ask to speak to the Community Cat Coordinator to discuss what role your group would like to play in the TNRM program. Approved partners will have the following proven value systems: excellent animal care standards, transparent, honest, reliable, a proven track record of ethical trapping and TNRM services. Ideally partners will have a registered charity status in good standing. Active volunteers with HSKL’s approved partners must provide the online certificate from Community Cats Toronto. The partner approval process is based on the above and up to the sole discretion of HSKL.