Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let's Close the Species Gap!

It's no secret that animal welfare is a very different thing for dogs and cats. Long gone are the days when dogs were allowed to roam. Dogs tend to receive significantly more veterinary care, are more likely to be vaccinated, and – females, at least – are more likely to be sterilized than their feline counterparts. 

More than 60 per cent of dogs brought to the Ottawa Humane Society as strays are claimed by their owners. And we suspect that a significant number of those "lost" dogs were really just unwanted by their owners for one reason or another. In our best year ever, despite huge efforts to get lost cats home, only seven per cent were claimed by their families!

One of the most striking differences between dogs and cats in our community, and by extension, at the OHS, are the numbers that enter our care with identification. While just 14 per cent of dogs admitted have either visible identification – a collar and tag – or permanent ID in the form of a microchip, only a sad one per cent of cats are so protected.  Obviously this seriously inhibits our ability to return a cat to its home.
While 14 per cent of dogs admitted to the OHS
 have either visible ID or a microchip, just one
per cent of cats do.

What can you do?  If you have brought a cat into your life, please outfit her with a collar and tag. Have her implanted with permanent identification. This way, you can help us and your neighbours return her home safely.  I know what you're thinking: My cat hates her collar. She never goes outside. Well, I hated wearing ties, but I got used to it. Your cat will get used to the collar. And a surprising number of owners that come to us looking for a lost cat tell us that “she never goes outside,” that, “she slipped out this one time.”

If you lose your cat, don't give up looking for him. We have reunited pets with their owners months after they became lost. Here are some tips from your friends at the OHS:
  • Visit the Ottawa Humane Society as soon as possible.
  • View photos of most stray cats admitted to the OHS shelter at www.ottawahumane.ca
  • Make fliers that include the lost date, description including any unique markings, a picture, and your phone number. A reward motivates people!
  • Make familiar sounds to attract your pet. Walk around your neighbourhood in the morning and evening calling your cat’s name.
  • Put fliers up around your neighbourhood shops, veterinary clinics and anywhere else, including your old neighbourhood if you’ve recently moved.
  • Place the kitty litter outside – while it may sound strange, this helps nervous or shy cats who may have bolted return to a site that “smells” familiar.
  • Check with neighbours, mail courier, newspaper and other delivery people, local veterinary clinics, etc.

More tips and information can be found on our website at: http://ottawahumane.ca/shelter/findyourpet.cfm.
And please, let's close the welfare gap between dogs and cats. Always identify your cat!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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