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Every year, Montrealers discard thousands of pets, mostly cats, for a variety of largely unacceptable reasons. Some people have the "decency" to take their animal to the SPCA, in the hopes that this organization will place it in a new home.

Since the SPCA has limited funds and little space, and receives countless such animals, as well as innumerable "strays" ("abandoned animals" would be more accurate), this is a very remote possibility. The majority of these unfortunate beasts end up being destroyed. Some animals are more callously discarded. The famous Canada Day tradition of moving house leaves in its wake a veritable army of cats whose owners decree that they are not wanted on the voyage. They are tossed into the street to fend for themselves, or left locked in their apartments for the next tenant to dispose of. Some are packaged in boxes and placed neatly in dumpsters, on top of the rubble of a homeowner’s renovation.

Some are taken to upscale neighborhoods like Westmount and released into a park, or tied up to someone’s property, possibly in the hope that local residents will take them in. Some are allowed outdoors at a young age, in the belief that it is cruel to confine them indoors. As many are not neutered ("Unnatural", "Too expensive", "She’ll get fat", "It’ll change his nature", "What?! Castrate my cat!!??"), once they reach sexual maturity at six months, they start doing what comes naturally. After nine weeks of gestation, the females produce the first of many litters, usually containing three to five kittens. The mother, who barely managed to feed herself before the birth of her offspring, now has a really tough time of it. She doesn’t, as people fondly imagine, catch much prey. For a start, there isn’t that much for her to catch. Also, she would normally have been taught this skill by her mother, from whom she was likely parted when she was two months old, at which time she was bought for a few dollars in a pet shop because she was "sooo cuuute!". So she rummages through garbage to find anything edible. Her next pregnancy will begin a few weeks later, likely before she has finished weaning her kittens. And thus is born the spiral of reproduction and misery.

The kittens have to fend for themselves at an early age, and many die of disease, cold and starvation. A few lucky ones come to the attention of someone kind and are adopted. Many of these cats, however, having lost all contact with humans, become feral, and their colonies populate our alleys. Their shadowy forms can be seen lurking near garbage bins.

A lucky few are fed by a local animal lover, whose work is made more difficult by neighbors who call the authorities to rid them of these unwanted animals. Every year, countless thousands are destroyed at the SPCA or at Le Berger Blanc, the City of Montreal’s pound.

You can help to put a stop to this unnecessary waste of life.

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