CORNWALL, Ontario – An elderly man living in the Riverdale area had a bad encounter with a roaming cat on Thursday night. The man has asked that we do not share his full-name, so we will refer to him as Mr. F.
Mr. F. said that he came across a grey cat with a white collar in the backyard of his Riverdale home on the evening on May 24.
He said that when he went to pet the cat, it attacked his right arm, causing him to go to the emergency room to get anti-biotics and a tetanus shot. The cat left him with several lacerations up his arm to his elbow. Mr. F. said that he waited in the emergency room until 4:30 a.m., a seven-and-a-half hour wait.
Riverdale resident Brendan Wells says that stray cats are a problem in his neighbourhood. He is aware of the proposed new by-law designed to discourage people from feeding roaming cats, but says that he feels it does not go far enough.
“These are wild cats, they are not pets,” Wells said. “There is one solution, euthanasia.”
Wells explained that he had seen some local organizations advocate for trap and release, where roaming cats would be trapped, spayed or neutered and then released back into the area where they were caught. He said that this would not work because the cats would still have feral tendencies and would still be out hunting for food.
He said that these cats leave messes in neighbourhood flower gardens, urinate on car tires, which creates a foul smell, they destroy lawn furniture and, as in the case of Mr. F., can be dangerous.
Wells said that when he heard about what happened to Mr. F., he called the Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS), who directed him to call the OSPCA. When he called the OSCPA, their office was closed, but their answering machine directed him to call the CCPS.
The police ultimately told Wells that they could have an officer come out to the area to write-up a report, but rather than occupy an officer’s time, Wells says that he wants to find a solution that gets to the heart of the matter.
“No one wants to see an animal destroyed,” said Wells. “But you have to face reality.”
The City of Cornwall administration presented City Council with a proposed by-law at the last City Council meeting on May 14. Under the by-law proposed by the City, anyone who feeds roaming cats would be responsible for having the cats spayed or neutered and all cats would be required to be on a leash when outside or would need to be in a fenced in space.
Mary-Jane Proulx of Roy & Cher’s Rescue was skeptical of that proposed by-law as well, but said that catch and release was the most effective way of dealing with the problem.
Mellissa Alepins of Tiny but Mighty Kitten Rescue went further to say that spaying and neutering needs to be more affordable.
“We need low-cost spay and neuter clinics,” said Alepins at the Cornwall Council meeting on May 14.
The SD&G OSPCA made a presentation to Cornwall City Council in Nov. 2017 where they stated that they had taken in over 700 cats that year and that nearly one-third of all roaming cats that they take in in the province come from Cornwall.
For their part, the CCPS said that if an individual is seriously injured by an animal, that they should call the police.
“If someone is attacked by an animal after-hours and the injuries are significant enough that medical attention is required, police should be contacted,” said Stephanie MacRae, Communications Officer with the CCPS. “If the attack is less serious where medical attention is not required and the owner of the animal is known to the victim, the OSPCA should be contacted during regular business hours as they are the appropriate agency to investigate these types of incidents.”