Cat ladies

Profile of Orillia’s Comfie Cat Shelter.

Nothing about Maureen, her spotless house, or visitors Barb and Anne suggests the stereotypical eccentric cat lady living in a decaying ruin, overrun by cats. Yet they are often labelled “cat ladies,” sometimes unkindly, and on occasion clearly despised and even threatened by those who perceive them to be aiding and abetting homeless cats.

The neuter/release program the volunteers undertake is only gradually being embraced, gradually being understood as a solution to controlling the burgeoning number of free-roaming cats. Cats have been multiplying, largely due to the failure of owners to fulfil their obligation to their pets. Kittens procured to amuse children over the summer are left behind at cottages; people on the move leave cats to starve in empty houses and apartments. Overwhelmed by broken marriages, lost jobs, the fast pace of life, the expense of veterinary care, humans force cats to fend for themselves — then persecute them for doing so.

But thanks to a devoted few, change is on the way. In Israel, fee-less neutering is now available and the killing of cats has been deemed illegal. Other countries and communities are also taking a more enlightened approach, Orillia among them. Even those less fond of cats can see the wisdom of supporting the Comfie Cat Shelter’s endeavour to humanely deter the cat population and to find responsible homes for needy kittens.

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