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The Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee has an uncertain future

The Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee has an uncertain future

Some 15 years ago a lover of cats named Shelley Schecter approached city council about supporting her movement to save homeless cats in our community and take on the Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt approach. Being a huge feline lover, I stepped up immediately and asked the Mayor – Anthony Housefather at the time- for his support. He responded with a logical challenge: to show the need for such a program.

Diane Liebling and other volunteers at the last council meeting.

I decided to call a public meeting at City Hall, with Shelley, Alana Devine (then of the SPCA) and Dr. Marlene Kalin of the Côte Saint-Luc Hospital for Animals as the panelists. It was standing room only, with pretty significant media. The mayor was sold and helped me get $5,000 a year of city funding. Any other financial support would have to come from fundraising.

Hudson and Frobisher
Cats like this have been rescued by the committee for years.


From the 150 people who jammed City Hall, about 20 actually stepped forward to help Shelley and I get this program going. We estimated that there were probably thousands of homeless cats in our surrounding community, many in the CPR Yards. We got endless calls of cats being found under balconies with litters. Soon enough Diane Liebling stepped forward. A retired nurse, she devoted seven days a week to this cause. One of her major accomplishments was developing a group of people to feed outdoor cats – wild cats that can sadly never be domesticated. She also followed the lead of Shelley and found fosters who took in rescued cats until we could find them homes. We started an annual fundraising concert; did garage and bake sales; undertook raffles; and put the word out to people to merely send us tax deductible donation cheques. There is also a very active Facebook page.

It is very costly to bring cats into the local vet and have them neutered and vaccinated. By doing so they cannot procreate, and therefore the number of outdoor cats is greatly diminished. Cats that are deemed social and have been abandoned are kept by us and put up for adoption. Those that are feral (unsocialized with no exposure to humans) are released back outside provided there is someone to feed and shelter them. A few have been sent to farms, but this is rare.

Fern and Rachel at the CSL Garage Sale on Sunday raising funds for the committee.


We have several feeders in CSL that look after community cats for the duration of their life. We provide these residents with food and small shelters, if need be. Of course, all of this costs money: the majority of which goes to veterinary care and food.

“It’s very difficult to keep one step ahead of the community cats that appear in Côte Saint- Luc as they often wander over from NDG, Montreal West, or other areas,” Diane notes. “Sadly, we also have our fair share of abandoned cats, social and therefore adoptable, within the community. We do not put social cats back outside, but rather retain them until they are adopted. We do this through our foster program whereby people keep these cats until they are adopted. We absolutely, and sadly, do nit catch every unneutered cat so each year we find ourselves with many kittens. The cost is enormous.”

As Diane states, we are the only city within Montreal proper that has a dedicated program exclusively for the care of feral/community cats. The SPCA has a TNR program and the rest of the city (Montreal and surrounding areas) is dependent upon them for this service. However, not every Montreal jurisdiction is covered by the SPCA. In those areas not covered, there is a never ending cycle of stray, abandoned, and feral cats. The suffering of these animals is appalling.

The Cote Saint Luc TNR Program has become quite well-known (at least, by other rescues/people who do what we do) throughout the city/province committed to the health and welfare of outdoor community cats.

Last year, with costs increasing, I was able to have city council increase the annual stipend for the Cats Committee to $10,500. Regrettably, facing a multi-million dollar deficit last fall, cuts had to occur across the board and that meant the Cats Committee budget was brought back to $5,000.

Diane and committee members attended the last public council meeting and made it very clear that without a return to the $10,500 funding level from the city, the future of the CSL Cats Committee is in doubt. Diane told me frankly last week that if new funding does not materialize by the end of 2024 the work of this group will not be able to continue.

From Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and myself to all members of council and senior staff, the hard work of the CSL Cats Committee has never gone unnoticed. We only start building our budgets in the fall, so it is too early to forecast whether or not the city will be in a position to increase funding.

“The CSL TNR program is not sustainable with the allotment we are receiving from the city,” says Diane. “Despite our best fundraising efforts, we are one invoice away from closing up shop. The feral/community cats remain an issue, but not as serious as the stray, sick, and abandoned cats and kittens.”

I know there are a lot of animal lovers in Côte Saint-Luc and beyond. If anyone reading this story knows of some people or organizations that would like to assist this cause please let me know at [email protected] or [email protected]


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