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Concordia Professor Helps Stray Cats MTL

March 1st, 2007, 07:40 AM
Stray cat cut

Felines without sex tools means no
unwanted kittens, says Steri-Animal co-founder


Name: Ann English

Age: 56

Occupation: Chemistry professor/co-founder of Steri-Anima

Bio: This benevolent downtown resident had been volunteering for the Animal Rescue Network for quite some time when she “came to realize that one of the main issues with respect to animals in Quebec was overpopulation.” In 2003, Ann, a chemistry professor at Concordia, along with three other volunteers from the ARN, decided the time was ripe to launch Steri-Animal, an organization devoted to stabilizing the local feral and unwanted cat population here in Montreal. She lives with two cats of her own and says she’d have more if it weren’t for her busy travel schedule, which already makes finding cat sitters for her two babies a constant challenge. Steri-Animal’s next Adoption Day will be taking place on Saturday, March 3, at Le Réveil du Maître (6165 Monkland)

What Steri-Animal does: “The main service we provide is sterilization of unwanted and feral animals. We find colonies of cats living outside, sterilize them and later return them to their territories.”

Why this might be an effective way to stabilize the local stray population: “You can’t just take them away and kill them like the city does because more animals simply come and take over the territory. But when you sterilize a colony, you stabilize it, and if somebody is feeding and providing minor shelter for these animals over the winter, it becomes the ideal situation.”

Isn’t trying to bag some feral feline with a healthy distrust of humanity a great way to get slashed to pieces? “Well, we use traps and the vets obviously tranquilize them before sterilizing them.”

So a stray cat can survive this hateful climate? “Yes, so long as they’re given some shelter when it gets very cold and if they’re fed, of course. But they don’t have long lives. Basically, the lifespan of an outdoor cat is about 2 years. When they don’t have shelter though, they freeze to death.”

How to provide some basic shelter so those constantly fighting felines in your back alley don’t freeze: Go to www. to find out and/or apply to volunteer for the organization. “They don’t need much, just a small space, but they still need basic shelter from the elements.”

Her estimate as to how many felines are living on Montreal streets at any given time: “Oh, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million or more.”

Something she firmly believes in: Always keeping your cat indoors. “People letting their cats roam outside is a big problem in Montreal. We come across so many horror stories—cats being mauled by dogs, hit by cars, so many wind up missing and who knows where they end up, perhaps in a lab somewhere. Usually, it’s the same people who don’t sterilize their pets who let them out to wander all the time.”

Has she ever considered just taking some of these forgotten strays to the vivisectionists who work alongside her at Concordia to experiment on? “Actually, in chemistry, we don’t do any experiments on animals.”

Last book read: Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Musical preferences: John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson.

Words of wisdom: “Spay and neuter your pets.”