Responsible Cat Ownership / Canada
Responsible Cat Ownership (
A common misconception is that domestic cats - like their
wild big cat cousins - need to roam freely in the outdoors. In truth, unlike
lions or leopards, domestic cats are poorly equipped to navigate the minefield
of outdoor risks that exist. Cats left outside to roam freely face an average
life expectancy of two to five years. In contrast, cats living within the home
enjoy an average life expectancy of 12 ½ years. Happily for our feline friends,
with a little help all cats can learn to enjoy the comforts of home.
Outside risks to unsupervised cats
Traffic: Some people mistakenly think cats are naturally
"street smart." Vehicles are a serious threat to all cats allowed
outside - and each day many are killed on roads across Ontario.
Disease: Feline Leukemia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV),
and rabies are just three of the deadly illnesses your cat can come into contact
with from wild and domestic animals. In addition, outdoor cats are vulnerable to
parasites such as fleas.
Abuse: Sadly, there are people in our society who abuse
animals, including cats. Letting your cats outside makes them vulnerable to
The elements: Domestic cats are not well suited to
surviving Ontario's extreme weather conditions. Extreme heat in the summer, and
bitterly cold winters both pose health risks to your cat.
Other animals: Confrontations with other animals, including
other roaming pets, feral cats, and wildlife, can cause your cat injury, or even
result in death.
Becoming lost: Cats may not always be able to find their
way home, or they may be mistaken for stray cats and end up at a pound or animal
shelter. Lost cats often fall victim to the risks listed above, while
"stray" cats risk being euthanized by animal shelters struggling with
limited resources to care for the continuous flood of animals arriving at their
Far too often a cat simply doesn't return home one day, and
the owner never finds out what really happened.
The impact of roaming cats on communities
Allowing your cat to roam not only endangers the life of
your cat, but directly impacts other animals and residents within your
Pet overpopulation: Roaming cats that are not spayed or
neutered contribute significantly to the ongoing pet overpopulation crisis.
Sadly, thousands of cats are euthanized in Ontario each year because there are
not enough adoptive homes.
Effects on wildlife: Roaming cats are common culprits in
the deaths of wild animals, especially birds and small mammals. Placing a bell
on your cat's collar is well intentioned, however, it fails to protect most
small animals. The effect of outdoor cats on a local wildlife population can be
devastating and cause unnecessary suffering to thousands of wild animals.
Conflicts with neighbors: Cats who wander may defecate in
gardens and other undesirable places, kill birds at a neighbour's birdfeeder, or
bother indoor cats visible through windows. These and other situations may
damage your relationship with neighbors and lead to unnecessary conflicts for
both you and your cat.
Municipal by-laws: If your municipality has a by-law
prohibiting cats from roaming off their property, you could face repercussions
if your free-roaming cat is reported to authorities.
Teaching your outdoor cat to enjoy the great indoors
While the best way to teach cats to enjoy living indoors is
to raise them inside as kittens, your outdoor cat can still become a happy
homebody with a little patience and effort.
Provide lots of attention: One of the reasons cats may
enjoy being outside is because there is lots to do. Help your cat adjust to an
indoor lifestyle by giving him plenty of quality time - this includes playing
with your cat and giving him lots of affection.
Make the indoors a fun place to be: Help your cat learn to
associate being indoors with the variety of activities they take pleasure in.
Feed your cat indoors, brush her (if she enjoys it), and make sure her litter
box is kept clean so your cat has fewer problems adjusting to it.
Bring the outdoors... indoors: Help your cat enjoy the
entertainment of the outside world from the safety of inside. Provide perching
areas on window ledges, a variety of comfortable resting areas to bask in the
sun, and open screen windows in warm weather to let the smells and breezes blow
through. If you take your cat outside, supervise him at all times. Create a
fully enclosed outdoor play area, or even harness train your cat so that the two
of you can enjoy walks together!
Teaching outdoor cats to become indoor cats does require
some patience, and some cats adjust more quickly than others. The most important
thing to remember is that despite any initial protests from your cat, your
perseverance will ultimately result in a longer, happier life for your favourite
Cats not permitted to Trespass
Cats are not permitted to trespass or be at large. For cat
owners, this means they must choose to have an indoor cat or they must ensure
their pet stays on their own property. Some cat owners do use leashes just like
dog owners, although you don't see many of them walking their cats in the
neighbourhood, not yet anyway.
If you see a cat at large, we ask the community to help us
by safely confining the cat. Unfortunately we are unable to send bylaw officers
out to pick up cats at large.
When the cat is safely confined, you can call us at
519-685-1330 to receive instructions on bringing the cat free of charge to the
shelter at London Animal Care Centre during our business hours.
All cats in the City of London must be registered and wear
their identification tag. This is true for indoor cats as well as for those who
You may keep a maximum of 2 cats per adult in the
If your cat is spayed or neutered, and you are buying a cat
identification tag for the first time, we require proof of spay/neuter surgery
to be able to offer you the reduced fee.
Identification tags are valid for the year for which they
were purchased and expire on December 31St.
Failure to purchase can result in penalties (increased
license fee, a ticket or court action).
Cats and the Outdoors
Outdoor cats live a life that is a mystery to their owners.
Your outdoor cat will happily use the neighbour’s garden
or lawn as a giant litter box, potentially causing problems between you and your
neighbour. The City of Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 349, prohibits cat owners
from allowing their cats to cause damage or nuisance to a neighbour’s
property. This means that your cat should be kept indoors or supervised while
outdoors so that you can be sure you are complying with the bylaw.
Outdoor cats are prone to getting lost and hundreds of cats
die annually on the streets of Toronto, alone and unidentified. Their owners
will never know of their demise. Searching for a lost cat, especially if it does
not have a City licence tag is a time consuming and often disappointing effort.
Less than 10% of lost cats are reunited with their owners.
It’s a fact that an indoor cat lives a longer, healthier
life than that of an outdoor cat. An indoor cat never faces the dozens of
dangers waiting outside your front door like cars, other cats waiting to fight
or exposure to disease and parasites. Cats raised indoors are perfectly content
with their world. Those that have experienced the outdoors will need some time
to get used to being inside. A cat run in the backyard may be the initial step
to help your outdoor cat learn to relax and enjoy the comforts of home.
Sterilizing your cat is important whether your cat goes
outside or not. However, it is especially important to spay/neuter your cat if
you do allow your cat to roam unsupervised. Many outdoor cats are also breeding
with other cats, increasing the already overwhelming population of unwanted,
Please be a responsible cat owner and
a respectful neighbour!
What does Toronto Animal Services (TAS) do?
Toronto Animal Services promotes responsible pet ownership,
encourages voluntary compliance with animal-related laws (City of Toronto
Municipal Code Chapter 349 (PDF file size 95KB)), promotes pet adoption and pet
identification. TAS works to further promote and support a harmonious
environment where humans and animals can co-exist free from conditions that
adversely affect their health and safety.
TAS also provides services to pet owners (e.g., lost pets, owner surrender, cremation, etc.) and services to citizens in the City of Toronto (e.g., pick up of sick and/or injured wildlife, removal of dead animals, etc.).
Reduced fee opportunities for cat and dog owners Toronto
Animal Services offers reduced fee opportunities for cat and dog owners. Failure
to license your cat or dog each year may result in a $240.00 ticket. If you are
taken to court under the current law, the maximum penalty is a $5,000.00 fine.
Be a responsible owner, license your pet today! The new licence/registration fee
structure is as follows:
updated April 13, 2013 send email