Thursday, July 10, 2014

Returning Lost Cats: We Need Our Community's Help

Last year 3,841 lost cats weren't claimed by their owners. We tried, but we need your help.
We have made some tremendous progress in many, many areas, particularly since our move to West Hunt Club. Almost every one of our measures shows improvement. The one glaring exception? Our one stubbornly low statistic is our cat return-to-owner rate. Last fiscal year, it was an abysmal 5.2%. Worse, it has only exceeded 6% one year in the last decade. That means of the 4,052 stray cats admitted last year, only 211 went home, most because no one came looking for them. When added to the several thousand cats surrendered by their owners, that creates enormous pressure as we care for and rehome this huge number of cats.
Even indoor cats escape - a tag and microchip on every cat
would ensure that every lost cat would get home.

We have tried many strategies over the years to return more lost cats to their homes, but none have had a significant effect. We are coming to realize that we can't do this on our own. We need our community's help.

What can you do?
First, keep your cat indoors. We estimate that this one step in responsible animal ownership would reduce the number of stray and injured cats by over a half.

Second, identify your cat. Even indoor cats escape, especially in the summer, when the screen door is opened and closed a lot, and when the outdoors is full of tempting sights sounds and smells. A tag and microchip on every cat would ensure that every lost cat would get home. A city registration even comes with a free ride home!

If you find a cat:
Don't assume that her owner isn't looking for her. File a found report through our web site www.ottawahumane.ca or contact our lost & found department landf@ottawahumane.ca or 613-725-9998 right away. You can also:
  • Place a free notice in the “found” section of the newspaper or on-line lost pet sites
  • Put up fliers in your neighbourhood and talk to your neighbours
  • Take the animal to the OHS or a veterinary clinic to check for a microchip
If you have lost your cat:
Search the area at dusk and/or dawn - be cautious around cars and garbage cans. Inform your neighbours and ask them not to feed your cat. Visit the Humane Society as soon as possible.
You can also:
  • Make fliers that include the lost date, description and any unique markings, a picture and your phone number - a reward motivates people!
  • Make familiar sounds to attract your pet and walk around your neighbourhood in the morning and evening calling your pet's name
  • Put fliers up around your neighbourhood, shops, vet 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
  • Place a lost ad in the paper and on-line. Check the found section
  • Check with the neighbours, mail carrier, newspaper and other delivery people, local vet clinics, etc.
By working together as a community, we can help all of our feline friends return to their home!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

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