The City of Windsor will go ahead with a plan to help pay to have cats sterilized.
Pet owners with low incomes can get a $75 voucher to help pay for the procedure.
The city hopes to spay or neuter 1,000 cats this year — 500 feral ones and 500 owned by low-income residents.
While making the pitch to city council, Melanie Coulter, executive director of the Windsor Essex County Humane Society admitted it won't fix the problem of feral cats overnight.
"It's for both low-income residents as well as feral cats," she said. "But 500 [cats in total] definitely can make a difference."
The city will spend $75,000 dollars on the spay-and-neuter program this year.
It was not a unanimous decision. Coun. Drew Dilkens is opposed to spending the money on such a program. There are two issues that concern him.
"I'd rather be putting money into programs that affect people who are homeless in the city. When I go to work every day on Pelissier [Street], there are two guys who sleep on the porch because they can't get into one of the shelters," Dilkens said. "And No. 2, I fundamentally disagree that it's the taxpayers' responsibility to take care of low-income people's pet ownership responsibilities."
A report is to be provided to council in a year on the success of the program.
Windsor not alone
Windsor isn't the only Canadian community in which feral cats are a problem.
In the Niagara Region in 2011, about 30 members of the Niagara Peninsula Veterinary Association began offering discounted spay and neutering fees to low-income pet owners. They slashed their charges by about half.
In 2004, the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA implemented the Trap/Alter/Release Program to control the feral cat population there. According to the organization, its goal was to sterilize approximately 600 cats in 2011, an increase over the 587 cats that were sterilized in 2010. The SPCA's work is done in consultation with the City of Hamilton.
And in the Maritimes, the Cat Action Team (CAT) of Prince Edward Island is an all-volunteer registered charitable organization working to care for and control the feral and stray cat population.
Since November 2000, CAT has trapped, neutered, vaccinated, and released almost 6,600 feral and stray cats across PEI.
CAT pays a discounted rate or approximately $100 per cat at private clinics. There is currently a waiting list of more than 400 cats.