Hawkesbury resident encourages council to consider action on cat overpopulation

Hawkesbury has a feral cat problem, according to a resident and volunteer for a local group that tries to control the local feline population.

On November 19, Ryan Handy, who volunteers for Operation Spay and Neuter, addressed Hawkesbury town council and asked that the municipality do something about the overpopulation of feral cats in neighbourhoods.

“It’s a large problem in the community,” Handy said.

He said that the large number of cats leads to issues with noise, property damage, and the possible spread of disease.

Coyotes are in town and are preying on the cats, according to Handy, who added that many of the feral cats in Hawkesbury are likely pets that were abandoned.  He believes that most of the cats have not been sterilized and therefore reproduce at a rapid rate.

Handy suggested that the town encourage residents to have their pet cats spayed or neutered.  The town could work with local veterinarians to establish spay and neuter days where the procedures could be offered at a reduced cost or for free.  Handy said reducing the cost or offering the service for free on a certain day would help low-income residents and control the cat population.

Handy further suggested that Hawkesbury enact a cat control by-law requiring all pet cats to be licensed and waiving the fees for cats that have been spayed/neutered and microchipped in addition to fining the owners of unlicensed cats.

No members of council had any questions for Handy, but there was discussion after he left the meeting about what could possibly be done to address the cat problem.

Mayor Paula Assaly said that the town could encourage residents to have their cats spayed or neutered through messages on Facebook and noted that organizations can ask for donations from the town for their activities, which she surmised could include a spay/neuter day.

However, Councillor Yves Paquette noted that only certain organizations sanctioned by the town are eligible for those donations.

Assaly suggested that the town discuss with local veterinarians about offering free or low-cost sterilization services

Councillor Robert Lefebvre suggested that the town communicate with the nearest chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).  Although it is located in Cornwall, Lefebvre said that it will assist with needs in the Hawkesbury area.  He also suggested that the town discuss the situation with veterinarians.

Councillor Lawrence Bogue said it is worth discussing the issue with veterinarians if they are interested.

Clerk Myriam Longtin agreed to contact local veterinarians to discuss the matter.

Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis suggested the town use its communications staff and platforms to encourage residents to have their cats spayed or neutered rather than making a monetary donation.  Paquette agreed.

“I agree with the others for advertising,” said Councillor Raymond Campbell.

Council did not approve any resolutions or make any decision on how to address the feral cat situation in Hawkesbury beyond the recommendations arising from the discussion.  Assaly concluded by saying that the issue requires further thought and examination.



James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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One thought on “Hawkesbury resident encourages council to consider action on cat overpopulation

  • November 30, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Just three days short of National Feral Cat Day (October 16), I spotted a dead feral cat on the roadside, likely hit by a car. It was quite saddening to know his/her life and death would not at all matter to general society.

    About three years ago, it was reported that Surrey, B.C. had/has approximately 36,000 feral and stray cats, so many of which are allowed to suffer severe malnourishment, debilitating injury and/or infection by callously neglectful municipal government as well as individual residents who choose to remain silent.

    (Progress could also be made by discontinuing allowing pet cats to roam freely outdoors and notably risk them becoming another predator’s meal or some sadistic person’s target for a torturous death.)
    When I made a monetary donation to the local Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) program, a lady volunteer left me a tearful voice mail expressing her appreciation, which to me suggested a scarcity of caring financial donors.

    No wonder cat Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) programs are typically underfunded by governments and private donors, regardless of their documented success in reducing the needless great suffering by these beautiful, sentient animals.

    I fear a possible presumption of feline disposability.

    Could there be a subconscious human perception that the worth of such animal life (if not even human life in regularly war-torn or overpopulated famine-stricken global regions) is reflected by its overabundance and the protracted conditions under which it suffers?

    (Frank Sterle Jr.)

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