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Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue wishes to acknowledge the CanFel Foundation for generously funding spay neuter surgery costs for 16 feral cats under the “Targeted Colony Cat Care” project, 2022-23. 


Three colonies were used as case studies to understand the factors contributing to colony formation, overpopulation and finding long term solutions.


Why does TNR work?

Feral cats are the same species as domestic cats but they have had little to no contact with humans. They are fearful of people and cannot be adopted. This is not the ideal scenario for any domestic animal, but there is a simple way that the Rescue can help them: Trap-Neuter-Return. This program ends reproduction, stabilizes feral cat populations, improves individual cats’ lives and curbs the spread of infectious disease. The behaviors and stresses associated with mating, pregnancy, yowling, and fighting, are reduced or stop entirely.

Feral cats that come through our TNR program receive the

following medical services, on a one time basis only:

  • spay/neuter

  • vaccinated with the 3 year rabies vaccine and FVRCP vaccine

  • physical exam

  • ear-tip for identification

  • Microchip

  • pain medication

  • additional medical intervention as needed at time of initial entry


The TNR program is free of charge, but the availability of the

program is dependent on funding to cover the costs.


The Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue Trap Neuter Return (TNR) Program strives in eliminating, managing and stabilizing feral cat colonies in the Ottawa Capital region, addressing their over-population and poor living conditions.

The program improves the health of unowned, stray, abandoned, and feral cats by trapping, housing and providing vetting that includes spay/neuter, vaccination (Rabies and FVRCP), parasite treatment, microchipping, ear-tip and one-time vet examination.

TNR Benefits:

  • Spay/neutering prevents generational in-breeding, gynecological issues, kitten mortality and infection. Neutering male cats reduces territorial dominance and fighting, and treats common ailments like abscesses and bite wounds

  • The TNR foster team assess cat temperament whilst in care and find adoptable homes for any cat that is friendly and suited to an indoor life.


  • The TNR team play a lead role in educating members of the community about the responsibility in spay/neutering their pets to help build community understanding and collective ownership of the overpopulation problem. 

  • They share their knowledge of feral cat behaviour, and build relationships with colony caretakers for the ongoing monitoring and welfare of colony cats

  • OSCATR participates in data research and geographical mapping to show the magnitude of the problem and understand the contributory factors to cat overpopulation, with the aim of bringing long-term solutions

  • The TNR team is a small team of dedicated volunteers and its ability to assist the community is dependent upon donations and funding

Barn relocation set-up
Rescueing injured strays
Barn acclimitization
TNR foster mom cat
Home sweet home
Rescueing in winter
Drop Trapping in winter
Colony feeding
TNR foster cage

The OSCATR Feral Cat (Barn) Relocation Program assists fully vetted feral cats who cannot return to their original location to find suitable barn or farm homes to work as mousers, whilst provided adequate shelter, food and water.


Winter Shelter



Every year around late August, the OSCatR Shelter Building team dust off their tools, tape, and exacto knives; watch for sales on totes and put in orders for straw.


We start off with a trip to a hardware store for durofoam, then we cut it to exact measurements to build each shelter.


We try to hold at least 2 Shelter Building workshops a year, where we can make 10-12 shelters. In addition, as needed, we gather any available volunteers during the week to build some.  We are very grateful to Out of this World Home Services who kindly offer their conference room for us.


For the last 3 years we've given out over 50 shelters to keep community cats warm and sheltered. We do not charge for the shelters, but donations are always welcome.

Here is a list of materials we use to build the winter shelters. Message us bellow if you would like to donate some items from our list.

  • Plastic totes (114L/30 gal )or larger

  • Rubbermaid Roughneck

  • Mastercraft heavy duty Gorilla tape

  • Duct tape - Heavy duty, weather resistant

  • Red sheathing/tuck tape

  • Duofoam 3/4" sheet insulation

  • Straw

  • Hardware store gift cards

What is a feral Cat?

"What is a feral cat?"

Feral cats are outdoor, free-roaming cats who have never been socialized to humans and are living in a “wild” state. Feral cats look like regular domestic housecats, but because they have never been socialized, they are very fearful and distrustful of humans. Some may arch their backs and hiss or show aggression; others avoid eye contact and just run. True ferals cannot be picked up or handled. Very often, you can’t even get close to them without weeks and months of building trust through feeding and patience. Think of feral cats like foxes, but less suited to living completely unassisted in the “wild.”


What is a Stray Cat?

"What is a stray cat?"

Stray cats are former pets who have either been abandoned or have “strayed” from home and become lost. Stray cats are generally tame and may be handled. These cats used to be cared for by an owner, but are now homeless and trying to survive on their own on the streets. Stray cats may be skittish or frightened and run away from people. Generally though, stray cats will want human contact and will exhibit similar temperaments as pet cats, especially with time. Stray cats can, and should be, rescued off the streets and placed into adoptive loving homes.

Why does TNR work?

"Why does TNR work?"

Spaying and neutering the cats will end the cycle of homeless kittens being born so the population stabilizes and, over time, it reduces naturally. Once the cats are fixed, the problematic behaviours of howling, cat fighting and spraying also subside. Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane way to effectively reduce the community cat population so that people and feral cats can peacefully co-exist.

Can I just trap the cats and move them to a farm?

"Can I trap a cat and move them to a barn?"

Trap and remove does not work.

Cats are in a specific environment for two main reasons:

1) there is a food source (intended or not)  

2) there is some sort of shelter.


When cats are removed from a location, it creates a “vacuum” effect — meaning the surrounding cats breed rapidly to fill in the gap. This vacuum effect is well documented and often results even more unsterilized cats than when you started. Often, the cats who are displaced to another location have difficulty finding food, shelter and water, and may try to return to the original location.

Can't Shelters find homes for them?

"Can't shelters find home for them?"

Most shelters are a death sentence for community cats, because feral cats are deemed unadoptable and are euthanized. Very young kittens may be rehabilitated by the shelter, but this is not a guarantee and the stress of being separated from their mother at such as a young age can be medically devastating for them.

What if we just ignore them?

"What if we just ignore them?"

If you ignore the cats, they will continue to breed, rapidly and prolifically. Cats can start having litters when they’re only five months old. They can have three to four litters a year, usually of five to six kittens per litter (although several may not survive). If you just ignore the situation, in a short time you can easily go from three or four cats to dozens. Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane, effective solution to control the homeless cat population.

I want the TNR program to help me with a cat

"I want the TNR program to help me with a cat?"

Owned cats are not eligible for any of our services. The City of Ottawa has a spay/neuter clinic that offers services at a reduced rate for owned cats, and vet clinics located outside of the city are often less expensive. Please visit the City of Ottawa’s website for more information.

Before you can utilize our program for a homeless cat, we first require an application. Once we receive your application, the TNR Coordinator will email you, usually within 72 hours, to get you started. They can loan you humane traps and other equipment as needed. They will also provide you with important humane trapping and aftercare instructions that you’ll need to read and be familiar with prior to trapping.

What if the cat is pregnant

"What if the cat is pregnant?"

It is often safe to spay a cat even if she is pregnant. The pregnancy will be humanely aborted. While later term pregnancies pose a slightly higher surgical risk, our veterinarians are highly experienced. If a cat is too far along to spay, our vet will make that determination. Another option is to hold the feral mother in one of our temporary feral safe houses until the kittens are 5-6 weeks old and then spay and return the mother while socializing the kittens and finding them homes.

Can I start trapping during winter?

"Can I start trapping during winter?"

Our TNR program does not operate in the winter because the cats can be stressed from the TNR, and are shaved for surgery, making it more difficult for them to keep warm. However, cats do not breed much in the winter (they are too busy trying to stay alive), so it is best to wait for spring. The best thing you can do for feral cats in the winter is to help keep them alive by providing dry kibble, fresh water (heated dog bowls are a great way to provide liquid water even in the coldest weather), and shelter.

I want to help!

"I want to help!"

That's great news!

TNR is a community-based program. It involves concerned citizens, like you, trapping feral, free-roaming cats in your neighborhood, bringing them to a clinic or program to get them spayed or neutered, and then returning the cats to the exact spot where they were trapped.

We would not be able to help cats in need without people like you!

Fill out an application below

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