The windows of the houses are boarded up and the human residents have left, but a number of orphaned cats remain at the now closed Canadian Forces Base in Rockcliffe. ((Jason Boychuk/CBC))

The final boxes were being packed and homes cleaned out as the Canadian Forces Base in Rockcliffe shut down Friday.

The Department of National Defence is closing the decommissioned base to make room for residential development once the 135-hectare site is sold.

Most of the residents have already gone, but a few things have been left behind: memories — and cats.

More than a dozen stray felines still live on the streets of CFB Rockcliffe. Many of them have been left behind because they aren't allowed in their owners' new homes, some of Rockcliffe's former residents say.

Mana Abukar, who has three children aged 10 to 15, said her family feeds some of those cats every morning.


A dozen cats still roam the streets and fields of CFB Rockcliffe, a decommissioned base that was shut down on Friday. ((Jason Boychuk/CBC))

"I feel also sad for them because now we're gone, the area is quiet. All houses are going to be closed, shut down," she said. "No one will feed them, it's kind of sad. I can't take [them] because I have a rabbit and my rabbit might be in danger if I keep the cat."

Abukar said she hoped some people might consider going to CFB Rockcliffe to offer some of the cats homes.

Aatif Mukhtar, 10, who has made friends with a young grey-and-black cat on the base, said he and his brothers Shaya, 12, and Jabir, 15, get a visit from two of the cats each morning.

Jabir Mukhtar said their family has helped recently to take care of the animals.

"We gave them milk. We gave them food. They were nice to us and we were nice to them," he said. "They walk around our legs."

The boys said they aren't sure what will happen to the cats once their family has left.

Tara Jackson, who speaks for the Ottawa Humane Society, said that if the cats are wild, they might be able to survive in the area of the base.

"Chances are, if they still have shelter, they could remain there on the base or they could move to a new food source," she said.

Aatif Mukhtar said that when he said goodbye to his feline friend on Friday, he had one wish for him: "To get older and have a good life."