Ontario SPCA rounds up prolific feral felines in Cornwall, Ont.

An eastern Ontario neighbourhood overrun by hordes of feral cats has gotten a little help from the Ontario SPCA.

73 cats, kittens picked up by OSPCA Thursday with more to be picked up Friday

Some of the kittens the Ontario SPCA rounded up in Cornwall in 2017. The local chapter took in more than 700 cats that year. (Ontario SPCA)

A Cornwall, Ont., neighbourhood overrun by hordes of feral cats has gotten a little help from the Ontario SPCA.

Officials on Thursday picked up 73 cats and kittens from people who were fostering them, and are expected to pick more up on Friday, the OSPCA said in a media release issued Friday morning.

To make space for the cats, the OSPCA moved all the animals in their shelters in Cornwall, Brockville, Napanee and Renfrew to their central shelter. That made room for about 100 of the ferals.

"Treatment needed by these cats and kittens, including spaying and neutering procedures, will be provided by the Ontario SPCA in advance of the pets being adopted, ensuring that future litters are prevented," the OSPCA said.

The Ontario SPCA rounded up 73 feral cats and kittens in Cornwall, Ont., on Thursday, and more are expected to be picked up Friday. (Ontario SPCA)

New litters born every week

Residents of Bergin Avenue near Water Street Park estimated there were upwards of 50 cats calling the street home, with new litters born every week. 

Homeowners say the street is consistently riddled with cat feces, urine and newborn kittens, and that there are numerous cat fights.

Local officials are considering a bylaw to address what they have deemed a cat crisis, and the OSPCA "strongly encourages" the city to proceed with a municipal community animal management strategy.

Stray cats are an issue in many parts of the city, but Bergin Avenue appears to be the epicentre of the crisis.

Residents want neighbourhood cleaned up

"It's like having a bunch of druggies on your streets," said Dennis Poisson Sr., who lives in the afflicted area. "All we want to do is clean up the neighbourhood."

Some lay part of the blame with a household they believe is feeding the strays, though they admit the problem is much larger.

A few dozen residents, including Poisson, are pushing for the city to take action and have filed a petition that was tabled at a council meeting last week. As a result, bylaw officials are preparing a report on the situation.

Denis Carr, the councillor who represents the area, said a gap in the city's regulations may be contributing to the problem.

An Ontario SPCA employee holds up one of the kittens that were rounded up in Cornwall, Ont., on Thursday. (Ontario SPCA)

No bylaws governing cats

"There's no governing bylaw to control cats — we have one for dogs, but not for cats," he said.

"This street is a real mess," said Carr, adding that residents have been asking for help for about a year.

Chris Rogers, the city's bylaw enforcement supervisor, said the city enacted a temporary, two-year feral cat bylaw about a decade ago in response to a similar issue, which allowed the OSPCA to carry out a trap and release program where they spayed and neutered wild cats.

"That worked then, so one idea is to re-enact that bylaw," he said, adding that meeting between the OSPCA and city officials is being scheduled.

150 people waiting to bring cats to shelter

The OSPCA said Thursday that there were 150 people waiting to bring cats into the Cornwall branch.

Shawn Lafave, one of the residents, said the cats have torn up his cucumber garden.

He has been sick with a lung infection for about a year and test results indicated it was a bacterial infection, which his doctor said came from the environment, he said.

Lafave believes it's from all the cat feces he's shovelled into garbage bins over the years. So last week he dumped the mess at the end of his driveway and left it.

"This is the city's problem and they came and picked it up," he said.

His neighbour, Poisson, said he appreciates the recent help from the city and the OSPCA, but worries that it will take too long to fix the problem.

"They're worse than jackrabbits in Arizona, believe me, the cats breed bad here," he said. "These kittens are sticking around and the gang's just getting bigger."

With files from The Canadian Press