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Responsible Cat Ownership / Canada

Responsible Cat Ownership  ( Canadian Federation of Humane Societies - CFHS)

A common misconception is that domestic cats - like their wild big cat cousins - need to roam freely in the outdoors. In truth, unlike lions or leopards, domestic cats are poorly equipped to navigate the minefield of outdoor risks that exist. Cats left outside to roam freely face an average life expectancy of two to five years. In contrast, cats living within the home enjoy an average life expectancy of 12 ½ years. Happily for our feline friends, with a little help all cats can learn to enjoy the comforts of home.


Outside risks to unsupervised cats

Traffic: Some people mistakenly think cats are naturally "street smart." Vehicles are a serious threat to all cats allowed outside - and each day many are killed on roads across Ontario.

Disease: Feline Leukemia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and rabies are just three of the deadly illnesses your cat can come into contact with from wild and domestic animals. In addition, outdoor cats are vulnerable to parasites such as fleas.

Abuse: Sadly, there are people in our society who abuse animals, including cats. Letting your cats outside makes them vulnerable to cruelty.

The elements: Domestic cats are not well suited to surviving Ontario's extreme weather conditions. Extreme heat in the summer, and bitterly cold winters both pose health risks to your cat.

Other animals: Confrontations with other animals, including other roaming pets, feral cats, and wildlife, can cause your cat injury, or even result in death.

Becoming lost: Cats may not always be able to find their way home, or they may be mistaken for stray cats and end up at a pound or animal shelter. Lost cats often fall victim to the risks listed above, while "stray" cats risk being euthanized by animal shelters struggling with limited resources to care for the continuous flood of animals arriving at their doors.

Far too often a cat simply doesn't return home one day, and the owner never finds out what really happened.


The impact of roaming cats on communities

Allowing your cat to roam not only endangers the life of your cat, but directly impacts other animals and residents within your community.

Pet overpopulation: Roaming cats that are not spayed or neutered contribute significantly to the ongoing pet overpopulation crisis. Sadly, thousands of cats are euthanized in Ontario each year because there are not enough adoptive homes.

Effects on wildlife: Roaming cats are common culprits in the deaths of wild animals, especially birds and small mammals. Placing a bell on your cat's collar is well intentioned, however, it fails to protect most small animals. The effect of outdoor cats on a local wildlife population can be devastating and cause unnecessary suffering to thousands of wild animals.

Conflicts with neighbors: Cats who wander may defecate in gardens and other undesirable places, kill birds at a neighbour's birdfeeder, or bother indoor cats visible through windows. These and other situations may damage your relationship with neighbors and lead to unnecessary conflicts for both you and your cat.

Municipal by-laws: If your municipality has a by-law prohibiting cats from roaming off their property, you could face repercussions if your free-roaming cat is reported to authorities.


Teaching your outdoor cat to enjoy the great indoors

While the best way to teach cats to enjoy living indoors is to raise them inside as kittens, your outdoor cat can still become a happy homebody with a little patience and effort.

Provide lots of attention: One of the reasons cats may enjoy being outside is because there is lots to do. Help your cat adjust to an indoor lifestyle by giving him plenty of quality time - this includes playing with your cat and giving him lots of affection.

Make the indoors a fun place to be: Help your cat learn to associate being indoors with the variety of activities they take pleasure in. Feed your cat indoors, brush her (if she enjoys it), and make sure her litter box is kept clean so your cat has fewer problems adjusting to it.

Bring the outdoors... indoors: Help your cat enjoy the entertainment of the outside world from the safety of inside. Provide perching areas on window ledges, a variety of comfortable resting areas to bask in the sun, and open screen windows in warm weather to let the smells and breezes blow through. If you take your cat outside, supervise him at all times. Create a fully enclosed outdoor play area, or even harness train your cat so that the two of you can enjoy walks together!

Teaching outdoor cats to become indoor cats does require some patience, and some cats adjust more quickly than others. The most important thing to remember is that despite any initial protests from your cat, your perseverance will ultimately result in a longer, happier life for your favourite feline!

London Ontario

Cats not permitted to Trespass

Cats are not permitted to trespass or be at large. For cat owners, this means they must choose to have an indoor cat or they must ensure their pet stays on their own property. Some cat owners do use leashes just like dog owners, although you don't see many of them walking their cats in the neighbourhood, not yet anyway.

If you see a cat at large, we ask the community to help us by safely confining the cat. Unfortunately we are unable to send bylaw officers out to pick up cats at large.

When the cat is safely confined, you can call us at 519-685-1330 to receive instructions on bringing the cat free of charge to the shelter at London Animal Care Centre during our business hours.


Cat Identification

All cats in the City of London must be registered and wear their identification tag. This is true for indoor cats as well as for those who go outside.

You may keep a maximum of 2 cats per adult in the residence.

If your cat is spayed or neutered, and you are buying a cat identification tag for the first time, we require proof of spay/neuter surgery to be able to offer you the reduced fee.

Identification tags are valid for the year for which they were purchased and expire on December 31St.

Failure to purchase can result in penalties (increased license fee, a ticket or court action).

Cats and the Outdoors

source: http://www.toronto.ca/animal_services/cats_outdoors.htm

Outdoor cats live a life that is a mystery to their owners.

Your outdoor cat will happily use the neighbour’s garden or lawn as a giant litter box, potentially causing problems between you and your neighbour. The City of Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 349, prohibits cat owners from allowing their cats to cause damage or nuisance to a neighbour’s property. This means that your cat should be kept indoors or supervised while outdoors so that you can be sure you are complying with the bylaw.

Outdoor cats are prone to getting lost and hundreds of cats die annually on the streets of Toronto, alone and unidentified. Their owners will never know of their demise. Searching for a lost cat, especially if it does not have a City licence tag is a time consuming and often disappointing effort. Less than 10% of lost cats are reunited with their owners.

It’s a fact that an indoor cat lives a longer, healthier life than that of an outdoor cat. An indoor cat never faces the dozens of dangers waiting outside your front door like cars, other cats waiting to fight or exposure to disease and parasites. Cats raised indoors are perfectly content with their world. Those that have experienced the outdoors will need some time to get used to being inside. A cat run in the backyard may be the initial step to help your outdoor cat learn to relax and enjoy the comforts of home.

Sterilizing your cat is important whether your cat goes outside or not. However, it is especially important to spay/neuter your cat if you do allow your cat to roam unsupervised. Many outdoor cats are also breeding with other cats, increasing the already overwhelming population of unwanted, homeless cats.

Please be a responsible cat owner and a respectful neighbour!

What does Toronto Animal Services (TAS) do?

Toronto Animal Services promotes responsible pet ownership, encourages voluntary compliance with animal-related laws (City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 349 (PDF file size 95KB)), promotes pet adoption and pet identification. TAS works to further promote and support a harmonious environment where humans and animals can co-exist free from conditions that adversely affect their health and safety.

TAS also provides services to pet owners (e.g., lost pets, owner surrender, cremation, etc.) and services to citizens in the City of Toronto (e.g., pick up of sick and/or injured wildlife, removal of dead animals, etc.). 

Reduced fee opportunities for cat and dog owners Toronto Animal Services offers reduced fee opportunities for cat and dog owners. Failure to license your cat or dog each year may result in a $240.00 ticket. If you are taken to court under the current law, the maximum penalty is a $5,000.00 fine. Be a responsible owner, license your pet today! The new licence/registration fee structure is as follows:

One Year Fee



Male/Female, Unaltered



Male/Female, Sterilized



Personal Assistance

No Fee


Replacement Tag (includes applicable taxes)

$ 3.39

$ 3.39

Male/Female, Unaltered Pet of Senior Citizen



Male/Female, Sterilized Pet of Senior Citizen




updated August 12, 2013     send email