Travel

Breakfast on the Hill

Feral felines on Parliament Hill
  • Dec 27, 2012
  • 334 words
  • 2 minutes
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There are two houses on Parliament Hill. There’s the one where the fur flies and the claws scratch. Then there’s the cat house just west of Centre Block, where six feral felines live and share breakfast every morning.

The cat sanctuary is a relic of the ’50s, when cats were recruited to control the rodent population on the Hill. But when chemicals and exterminators took over, the cats had nowhere else to go. Groundskeepers continued to feed the cats, and in the 1980s volunteer Rene Chartrand, nicknamed the Catman of Parliament Hill, built little wooden winter huts for them. In 1997, the cats were upgraded to a larger hut.

Today, one cat remains from the original line of Hill cats. The rest were abandoned at the sanctuary, but they blended into the group nicely. They rarely stray far from home, and Members of Parliament often visit.

Update: Parliament Hill’s cat sanctuary is now closed. Public Works announced the decision in late December. The remaining cats were adopted by the volunteers.

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Brian Caines, a volunteer who helped build the cathouse, prepares the bowls as the cats await their meal.
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Bugsy watches closely as breakfast is prepared.
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Fluffy is the first to dig in. The food is all donated by Oven-Baked Tradition.
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Once Bugsy is full, he’s off to roam.
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Spot gets fed right out of Brian Caines’s hand.
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Spot digs in to his meal.
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Shy Ti-Gris gets his own bowl of wet food. The cats prefer to eat wet food from their own bowls but are fine with sharing dried food and water.
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The black cats eat on their own.
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Volunteer Randy Panisiak cleans Coal’s eye.
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Randy Panisiak cuddles Coal.
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The shed where supplies are kept.
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The cat house.
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The cat house.
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A trunk for sleeping.
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Some cats prefer plain old styrofoam.
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The other house on the Hill.
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