Community Cats and Their Management: Guelph Cat Population Taskforce
Free-roaming, stray, and feral cats (community cats) are everywhere in North American communities, but their presence and management often cause conflict. The acceptability of competing approaches such as Trap-neuter-return (TNR) and euthanasia are hotly debated. Community-specific engagement and consensus are required in order to draft policy and implement actions that are both humane and accepted by the community. However, very little research has been conducted on community cats in the Canadian context.
To fill this gap, the Guelph Cat Population Taskforce surveyed Guelph residents to quantify the number of community cats, understand existing attitudes and opinions about cats, and develop acceptable actions. In November 2014, the Taskforce conducted 116 in-person surveys. Findings indicate that approximately 15% of households feed community cats; 79% of respondents were supportive of TNR; 88% of respondents were supportive of education; and 20% were supportive of euthanasia. Overall, a minority of residents were concerned about community cats being a nuisance, although there was some concern about the possible impacts of cats on native fauna. The majority of residents were most concerned about the welfare of community cats. The results of this survey suggest that the humane management of community cats is of high priority to Guelph residents, and will be used to direct the implementation of future community cat management strategies in the City.