A small group of cat lovers has come together to “rescue” and find homes for feral felines living along Owen Sound’s riverbanks.

The Owen Sound Feral Cat Rescue recently received the city’s stamp of approval to humanely trap, then spay or neuter and find homes for stray and feral cats in Owen Sound.

“There’s so many people out there wanting to help these (cats). It’s not about the money. It’s about getting these guys off the bank and getting some kind of life for them,” the group’s administrator Sharon Morden said Tuesday.

City council approved a bylaw Oct. 15 that exempts the rescue group from Owen Sound’s ban on feeding wild animals. Council also approved a policy, recommended by the city’s bylaw committee, that allows the group to operate a trap, neuter and adoption initiative in Owen Sound.

The policy, developed after consultations with the Owen Sound Animal Shelter and the feral cat rescue group, limits trapping to the riverbank area of the city’s downtown core. It also requires the group to cover all expenses, submit quarterly reports to the animal shelter and release cats with identification to the shelter to be returned to their owners.

Coun. David Adair, chairman of the bylaw committee, said the end goal is for all feral cats living along the riverbank to be removed, fixed and adopted.

“And hopefully people don’t continue to drop cats off along the riverbank. This isn’t a way for people to get around being responsible pet owners,” he said.

Morden said the rescue group estimates that more than two dozen feral cats live along the Sydenham River in Owen Sound.

The group plans to begin by trapping three cats sometime next week, she said.

Food is left out for about two weeks, then no food is placed outside for a couple days. After that, with the cats “nice and hungry,” a trap with food inside is set, she said. The traps are supervised by volunteers with the rescue group, who will wear brightly coloured vests.

The group will then take the cats to a temporary home and verify that the trapped animals have not been reported missing at the Owen Sound Animal Shelter, Morden said.

Homeless cats will be spayed or neutered the next day by a veterinarian who has offered the group a reduced rate.

The cats are then placed in a foster home for about 30 days and then rehomed.

“The hope for their destination would be barns as mousers. We have a few that are interested in that and we’re hoping for more. And also some of them can be homed and stay where they are (at the foster home) or find a place and they become social again,” she said.

Morden said the group will rely on donations. Money is needed, along with food, volunteers and foster homes, she said.

Feral Cat Rescue

The Feral Cat Rescue Volunteers are a group of concerned people that are helping to control and manage the Feral Cat population in Shelburne & Owen Sound.