The following is a copy of an email, sent by Pacific Animal Foundation in 2011, to the Mayor and Council of every Municipality in
British Columbia.

Dear Mayor and Councillors:

Council may recall receiving our first email in July 2009, entitled "Feral Cats in Your Community - What to do?"  A copy of that email is found at this link:

Pacific Animal Foundation - TNR Initiative - Email to all BC Municipalities – Part I
TNR Initiative to All municipalities

We received numerous emails thanking us for providing communities with reliable, factual information about feral cats and the very successful practice called Trap/Neuter/Return (or "TNR").  Many Councillors were under the impression that the feral cats in their communities were covered under their animal control contracts and were surprised to find otherwise.  A simple call or email to your animal control provider to ask what happens to your community's feral cats will advise you how feral cats are handled in your community.

The practice of TNR is gaining wide popularity around the world, especially in the USA and Canada because it works and is the ONLY effective practice that does.  And it does it humanely.  By practicing TNR, communities are reducing the new litters of feral kittens being born on their streets.  This directly lowers the numbers of unwanted kittens being turned into pounds and shelters.  If a municipality can lower its animal control costs and save taxpayers money by lowering the numbers of unwanted animals in their municipal pounds, then it's a win-win situation for all.

Decades of trapping and killing feral cats has not worked.  The National Animal Control Association in the USA has recognized this and officially changed its policy toward feral cats in 2008.  Please see the NACA article titled
Taking a Broader View of Cats in the Community".

Quoting from that article:

"The previous policy was really aimed at cleanup, and this (new policy) is designed to be more community-minded  . . .   Before, some agencies were simply holding the policy up and going, 'This is proof [of] why we should do this, because this is the leading national animal control agency, and their policy is [to] capture and potentially euthanize.'  And that is not the direction the communities are going.  That's not the direction that NACA's going.  So we've amended our policy to address that . . "

Our group can offer some hard data to prove that TNR is effective and successful in our community. 

District  of North Vancouver Municipality

population – approx. 90,000 residents

Our municipality has miles of ocean coast line, railway grain cars dropping grain along the waterfront tracks, lots of creeks and waterways (all situations conducive to attracting rodents), and a mild climate.  It could sustain a heavy feral population.

Number of stray or feral kittens surrendered to District Animal Shelter


Year 2009 – 11 kittens

 Year 2010 – 15 kittens

 Year 2011 - 4 kittens

 ** see link to District North Van stats below

Why so few stray or feral kittens turned in to the District Animal Shelter in a large, urban municipality ?

 . . .  because TNR has been heavily practiced in this community for nearly 20 years.  It works!

 Click here for District of North Van. Municipal Animal Shelter  stats for 2009 and 2010 and click here for 2011 (** domestic source refers to tame, owned cat with kittens).

A recent scientific study, published in the
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2009, has found that the vast majority of pet cats are neutered.  It states, however, that "the most comprehensive research to date indicates that less than 3% of the stray and feral cats are neutered."  The search results mean that, in order to reduce feline overpopulation, the focus should be on programs aimed at neutering stray and feral cats.

See "Vast Majority of Pet Cats Are Neutered" - Alley Cat Allies 2009

You may want to review current policies with your animal control provider and discuss implementing a TNR program for your community.  If every municipality would set aside some funds annually within their animal control budget for TNR, then your community would see fewer feral kittens either on the streets or surrendered to your local shelter.

See - "Research Data re: Feral Cats"

Cat licensing is not a new concept.  As far back as the early and mid-1990's, the idea was receiving attention.  Several jurisdictions in the U.S. even enacted licensing programs against the advice of several prominent groups of animal organizations who cautioned against it.  A number of those jurisdictions have repealed their legislation citing various reasons for rescinding the law.  Toronto, Ontario is now the latest jurisdiction to contemplate ending their failing pet licensing legislation.

 From the Toronto Star - January 12, 2011

- City eyes scrapping dog,cat licences

- Toronto looking at ending failed pet-liencsing program

 Four articles below explain the drawbacks to licensing legislation.

 1)  Why is CFA opposed to cat licensing?

2)  Against Cat Licensing

3)  The Dark Side of Mandatory Licensing and Neuter Laws; and

4)  Cat Licensing:  A License to Kill

 Council should be aware of the negative consequences of cat licensing legislation.

 1)  people may not seek veterinary care for their animal fearing a fine or impoundment fee if found to have no licence for their animal;

 2)  community feral cats, who have no owners, risk being trapped and killed, resulting in increased killing costs and numbers for a municipality.  At the very least, feral caregivers may not initiate Trap/Neuter/Return ("TNR") programs for their local cats fearing impoundment and/or killing of the cats.  The cats then continue to reproduce which is counter-productive to reducing the new litters of street kittens; and

3)  in a large urban environment such as
Vancouver, many municipalities share common borders.  Cats do not respect jurisdictional boundaries when wandering, so would pet owners living close to municipal boundaries be required to pay licence fees in more than one municipality?  What if one municipality adopts licensing but the neighbouring one does not?  When an annual licence expires is the record of the animal expunged?  A lot of bureaucratic paperwork will be needed in order to keep up with constant record keeping.

If the major aim of cat licensing is to reunite lost pets with owners, then likely technology will be that answer.  Licensing may only work if the cat is actually found.  It can't track a lost cat but technology has moved forward at a tremendous pace and there are several pet tracking devices already available in the marketplace.  A simple google search has turned up several.  (see below)  It's likely only a matter of time before pet tracking devices are mass marketed.  RFID chips are already used for microchipping dogs and cats for identification purposes once an animal is found.  RFID tracking chips embedded in collars (and ultimately the pet) will allow us to track our pets.  From a municipal point of view, instead of licensing, it may be best to encourage pet owners to either microchip or tattoo their animal to increase the return of lost pets.

Cat Tracking Devices - see some following options:

Paw Track - GPS cat tracking collar

The Cat Locator

Testimonials on the Cat Locator

Mandatory legislation often has negative, unintended consequences for the humans and animals in our communities.

 "Compounding the problem is the fact that enforcement of ordinances such as pet limit laws, cat licensing, mandatory spay/neuter, cat confinement, and 'nuisance' laws is often selective and complaint-based, leaving pet owners and feral cat caregivers vulnerable to retaliation from neighbours and others.  Worse, legislation may be worded so that the result of non-compliance is the impoundment and death of the animal.  Legislation can also be costly to enforce and divisive in the community, with fewer positive results than are gained by offering free or low-cost spay/neuter, a feral cat assistance program, and voluntary identification programs."

See article - "Compassion is the Way" - by Nathan Winograd (Oct. 2002)

 For instance,  mandatory pet limit laws and indoor cat confinement laws can have unexpected outcomes.  "Many caregivers and rescue groups would have to respond to a pet limit law by refusing to offer the care they were otherwise capable of giving."**  This would result in an increase of animals confined to shelters and more animals killed.

Laws are currently in place in most jurisdictions to act on any reported situation of concern or neglect for animals through municipal bylaws.  "Remedies already exist to cover health regulations, noise abatement, sanitation requirements, and cruelty and neglect laws."

See article - "Against Pet Limit Law Position Paper" - No Kill Advocacy Center

Similarly, if cats were mandated to be indoor-only, then the balance of nature would be upset.  British Columbia has a long ocean coast line, numerous inland lakes, rivers and waterways.  Rail cars from the Prairies continuously drop grain along the tracks through the Province to the coast.  Given the green push to compost, many residents are filling their backyard composters with egg shells, and vegetable and fruit scraps.  All of the above, combined with a generally mild climate in most of British Columbia, provide the "perfect storm" for a thriving and robust rat and rodent population.  Unlike the Province of Alberta which, because of their constant 50 year rat eradication program, B.C. has, and always will have, rodents.  Did you know that there are no rats in Alberta?  See the following link:

National Geographic News - see Canada Province Rat-Free for 50 years!

If any jurisdiction in B.C. mandates indoor-only restrictions for cats, we will be dealing with a very large and uncontrolled infestation of rodents in our communities.

In their efforts to "manage" species, humans have upset the balance of nature on many occasions.  The removal of natural predators such as cougars, coyotes, bears and wolves on the Gulf Islands has resulted in out-of-control deer population numbers.  "Deer are munching vegetation on some Gulf Islands to the point where they're changing the environment, such as driving away songbirds that rely on vegetation for food and nesting, a University of B.C. study has found."

See link - "Soaring deer numbers hurting other species, UBC study finds."  (Vanc. Sun- Jan. 24, 2011)

Indoor/outdoor owned and free-roaming feral cats can actually help our communities.  "It is a proven fact that cats are unmatched when it comes to controlling rat infestations.  The greening of any city must include using [Green] cats as a protocol and removing 'pest control' poisons from our streets and businesses, says Martin."
See article - "City ferals promotes environmentally friendly felines" - by Lisa Warren (Sept/Oct. 2010)

See link: LAPD enlists Feral Cats for Rat Patrol

Volunteer Rescue Groups have a unique perspective.  We are in the field daily AND, very often, we go HOME with the animals in our care.  Whether they are stray or feral, many times the animals need foster care for a period of hours, days or weeks.  Our knowledge is gained from "hands-on, 24/7".  Years of experience "in the trenches" on the streets has provided our group and other volunteer rescue groups with knowledge of what works and doesn't work when it comes to assisting both the humans and the animals in our jurisdictions.

Our PAF Feral Cat Booklet may also be of some assistance.

We hope that the information contained in this email is of help to your Council in making decisions for your community.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time.


Lana Simon, Director
Pacific Animal Foundation

cc.  All B.C. Mayors and Councils