Cornwall considers bylaw change to wrangle feral cat population

Cornwall, Ont.. city council is expected to vote this week on a proposal to put thousands of dollars annually toward reducing the number of stray and feral cats that have taken over the city’s streets.Stray cats have been an issue in the eastern Ontario city since at least 2017, particularly along Bergin Avenue just southeast of downtown.That year, Ontario SPCA officials snatched up more than 700 free-range felines.Last summer, council endorsed a proposed bylaw to stem the population of strays, one that could have required Cornwall residents to keep their cats indoors and have them spayed or neutered within five years.The proposal appearing Monday will actually amend the existing animal control bylaw to make clear reference to cats.It pledges to set aside money annually for a subsidized cat control program, one that could be accessed by local rescue organizations that seek to trap strays and spay or neuter them before releasing them back into the community.Cats would also have to be registered by their owners, starting Feb. 1, 2021.COVID-19 delaysBray said the city has already earmarked $40,000 toward cat population initiatives for 2020, and if the bylaw is approved Monday night, that amount will be reviewed annually for roughly the next five to 10 years — the amount of time experts say it takes to solve these sorts of problems.The city is hoping to offer spay-and-neuter clinics later this year, a remedy that’s been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.”There’s been a few challenges, but we’ll get there,” Bray said.Monday’s proposal will not restrict pet owners from allowing their cats to roam outside, he added.Submitted by Mellissa AlepinsPrograms ‘very crucial’What’s being put forward is a good start, said Mellissa Alepins, who runs Tiny but Mighty Kitten Rescue in the city and has cared for about 100 cats over the past few years.Alepins said a trap-neuter-release program is “very crucial” for ultimately reducing the number of stray and feral cats, but people also have to spay and neuter their own pets, too. They use their property and their yard as a litter box, which sucks — but it’s also not the cat’s problem, because they’re not getting the help they need. – Mellissa Alepins At the same time, $40,000 likely won’t be enough to address a crisis that’s enveloped the entire city, she added — and is particularly bad for people living on Bergin Avenue.”I understand where ‘trap-neuter-release’ comes from, but it’s not going to help my situation,” said Lefave, who’s dealt with cats urinating and defecating on her property, sleeping under the hood of her truck, and tearing up her garden.
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