To all those sceptics and cat haters who say that TNR does not work, I would invite you to read this article because it is fairly conclusive evidence that when TNR is managed properly and on a wide scale, it is indeed effective as demonstrated in Toronto.
A recent survey by the Toronto Humane Society, which was carried out with the assistance of cat colony caretakers and data around land use and population density, has come up with a figure of 17,000 feral cats living in Toronto.
Although that might sound like a large number to some people, it is a reduction by 83% from an assessment a decade ago which put the figure at 100,000.
A spokesperson for the Toronto Humane Society, Tegan Buckingham, their Director of Integrated Marketing and Development, said:
“What we noticed in terms of trends is…[that] the number of cats coming in that are considered a stray are decreasing over time.”
This is confirmed by Toronto Animal Services. They say that fewer cats are entering shelters. They report a close to 57% drop between 2010 and 2017.
Both organisations credit TNR programs in the city for the decline in feral/stray cat population numbers. As usual, these programs are largely run by volunteers whose work is invaluable.
Note: we have to be brutally honest. The earlier figure and even the more modern figure may not be entirely accurate because, ultimately, they must be assessments. Although there is no doubt there’s been a sharp decline in feral cat numbers. It’s important that more surveys are done on a more regular basis to monitor the decline in numbers and thereby assess more accurately the effectiveness of TNR programs.
One such volunteer and cat lover is Connie Archambault. She has been operating a TNR program for more than 16 years. She was working with 18 cats between two colonies in the Port Lands area. She said:
“Since 2004, there have been no kittens. Then they slowly died out over time.”
She confirmed that the colonies have almost disappeared. She has kept one feral cat for herself who enjoys the outside life. His name is Ollie.
This story appears in CBC Canada. Correspondent: Lauren Pelley.