Hamilton Street Cats


Under our decks and porches, on our streets and in our backyards – there is an endless, and ever-growing, stream of cats on our streets. For many Hamiltonians that's an impossible scene to imagine but in some areas of this city it's just reality.

It's often said that there are too many homeless cats in Hamilton - some put the number at around 1,500, others suggest it's closer to 5,000. Whatever the exact number might be, for the residents of the areas where these cats are plentiful, it's a serious problem.

They're mostly "feral;" former house cats who've gotten lost or been abandoned and had to adjust to life "on the street" and the offspring or descendants of these cats. To some degree they have all reverted to the wild, becoming fearful or outright terrified of human contact. For them life's a struggle to survive; the basics (food, water, shelter) are hard to come by.

And for the cat lovers who catch glimpses of them - hungry, hurt, sick, desperate - it can be heart wrenching. Putting out some food and water and providing some make-shift shelter is a way to help. Understandably, cats start hanging around and are joined by others; that's how Feral Colonies form and that's how residents become Caregivers.

Some neighbours will be supportive but not everyone likes cats and some people are not cat friendly. Some neighbours will complain and a few may even resort to drastic measures like setting out traps to get rid of them.

Too many cats can be a source of friction, a burden to some, an annoyance to others, and, as new litters of kittens keep arriving swelling the numbers, things can get worse.



So, what can be done?

The almost universally accepted answer is Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR). It's a humane approach that involves trapping, neutering, vaccinating, ear-tipping, and micro-chipping these cats and then returning them to their caregiver who continues to look after them outdoors. As well as putting a stop to population growth, it improves the quality of life for the street cats in the colonies and for the residents.

It's sort of a win-win.  Benefits to the cats are obvious and benefits to the neighbourhood include no more yowling females in heat, no more smell from males spraying, calmer/healthier street cats and, over time, fewer of them.

TNR isn't a new idea; it goes back decades. Many US cities are already well on their way to getting the numbers of feral cats down to manageable levels. New York City is a prime example and several Canadian cities, including nearby Toronto, are hard at work using TNR to address their cat overpopulation issues.

In Hamilton, TNR has barely gotten off the ground. A few local rescues have made efforts and the HBSPCA runs a TNR program. But the local rescue groups are already swamped by the demand to rescue and find homes for strays suited to an in-door life style and the HBSPCA's TNR program can't possibly do it all.

Hamilton Street Cats (HSC) is a new organization, co-operating with programs already in place and doing its bit to help move things along in Hamilton.

We're starting small with a demonstration project focusing on one colony of 20 street cats currently being cared for by a kind caregiver in a neighbourhood where there is lots of support. All the photos on this page are of cats from this colony.

Keep up to date with news and events on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/739131462809995/

To learn more about HSC, please come to our Events and Fundraisers

And we'd be happy to hear from you with questions, ideas or offers to help. You can contact us at: hamiltonstreetcats@gmail.com


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