One of the more unusual tourist attractions on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, the seat of Canadian government, is the Parliament Hill Cat Colony.
Some of the cats are the descendants of cats who lived in the Parliament Buildings and took care of the rodents. When they were replaced with rodent poisons, they were no longer welcome indoors and became homeless.
They had to fend for themselves or depend on the kindness of Hill employees. Groundskeepers fed them in different locations until around 1970.
At that point, a woman named Irene Desormeaux began feeding them where the colony now resides. In the mid-1980s, Rene Chartrand began assisting her, building some wooden structures for them to shelter in. Irene died in 1987 and Rene has been looking after the cats, faithfully since that time. He is assisted by 8 volunteers, now. Veterinary care is provided by the Alta Vista Animal Hospital and Purina provides food. Visitors can and do leave donations.
All the cats are "fixed" and released back into the colony. Strays sometimes join the colony and sometimes people abandon their cats at the colony. However, newcomers aren't guaranteed to be accepted and are usually driven off my the other cats.
"Please under no circumstances abandon cats or kittens on the Hill or by the Cat Sanctuary. The cats will not readily accept newcomers and for the most part chase them away. Nor is it a given new cats will find the Sanctuary in search of shelter and food. Most abandoned cats are very disorientated and will just randomly wander off finding starvation and death - especially in the winter. If you can no longer care for your cat, please take her to the Humane Society where she can be well taken care of and put up for adoption. This is what we do for any abandoned cat we find. And it causes us great grief when we cannot capture one - which happens way too often. And if you give kittens as a gift for Christmas, ensure the person or the household you give them to can provide for them. If not, then you should reconsider your priorities. No kitten deserves to be abandoned like an unwanted toy. Owning a pet is a serious responsibility. If you don't share that feeling, you shouldn't own a pet. It's as simple as that. Abandoning your pet is a criminal offense with up to 2 years in jail. Perhaps you who would be so callous should think about that. Treat your pets well, and they will reward you with unconditional love for the rest of their lives. Should we all care so much as they care for us." Klaus J. Gerken [volunteer]