Porch Cat. I have a friend that talks affectionately yet with frustration about Porch Cat. Seems he doesn’t own a cat, yet has all the negative issues that come along with a cat. From chasing squirrels and rabbits, using his garden as a litter box and other cat annoyances, Porch Cat seems to aggravate him a lot of the time. And then, on some of the coldest days of the year, his comments turn to worrying whether Porch Cat is safe.
A recent article pointed out that we have a huge population of feral cats. These feral colonies rarely venture into our yards, though. They hunt along the riverbanks and remain mostly invisible to residents. Groups like Craig Street Cats have programs in place like TNP, where they trap, neuter (or spay), vaccinate and release the animal back into the colony. Kittens under 3 months enter the adoption program. You can see more of what they do at www.craigstreetcats.ca
But back to Porch Cat, if he’s not a feral cat (because we rarely see feral cats), then why is he on the porch so often? The City of Winnipeg has a strict policy that cats need to be kept either indoors or if allowed outside, must be contained or leashed in some way, and not allowed to roam at will.
The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw has a list of what cat owners must follow, and the list of fines is quite scary, starting at $200 for “Fail to prevent cat from running at large” https://winnipeg.ca/cms/animal/Fines.stm#cats . A lot of people don’t know that this bylaw exists, or don’t see why they should follow it if they do. My generation was raised with cats having free run, inside or out, my childhood memories contain many a story about a family cat getting into mischief trying to get in or out of the house. And more than once having a cat leave the house, never to return.
Allowing cats to roam can cause friction with neighbors. While Porch Cat and his adversary have a mostly benign relationship, cats at large can cause very real concern for some residents. I have to thank Ruth for suggesting this topic, her frustration at roaming cats has real consequences. Ruth has bird feeders and bunnies in her yard, and is troubled by roaming cats chasing and killing these innocent creatures.
Along with the damage done by these little predators, they also can be an annoyance to animals inside the house. Sitting on a window ledge, howling at an indoor dog of cat, it can be disturbing to animal and human resident of a household.
These roaming cats are either someone’s pets or feral. Preventing them from entering your yard is nigh on impossible. While there are products to repel animals (either through scent or sound), these tend to repel all animals, both unwanted and wanted. So, what other options are there?
Animal Services on Logan Ave will rent you a live trap for $72.10 for 5 days. Trapped cats need to be taken to the Humane Society, and the trap returned to Animal Services where you will be refunded $58.00 if the trap is returned in the proper condition. So, $14.10 out of pocket. These traps are not available in cold weather, as trapped animals can suffer or even die if the trap is not monitored.
If you want to let your cat roam, you can construct a “Catio”, and enclosed outdoor area where they can play. Or you can harness them, or even teach them to walk on leash. Our Bengal Cat, Streaky, is scared of the outdoors, and treats the house as his personal jungle gym, so I’m not worried about his need to roam. Haven’t bought him a cat wheel yet (like a huge hamster wheel), but I am considering it. Making sure the animal has sufficient challenges indoors can give it a full life, and save you hundreds in fines.