Cats on the Hill heading to new homes
Published Friday, January 4, 2013 1:11PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 4, 2013 6:56PM EST
The cats on Parliament Hill have been a fixture for more than 40 years.
Now, their permanent home is being shut down by the volunteers who cared for them. The last of the cats have all been spayed and neutered and are too old to brave Ottawa winters. The last four cats have all been adopted.
Volunteer Brian Caines says it is the humane thing to do.
Caines has already adopted a cat by the name of Ti-Gris.
"There's a period of adaptation for most of them. She's now behind the sofa, she's quite comfortable. She'll come out, she'll greet me, she'll purr, she's happy," says Caines.
Another volunteer Sally Sax has spent every lunch hour with the cats for the past seven years. She's spending these last moments cuddling with the last remaining cat, Bugsy.
'It's totally bittersweet. You wouldn't be a volunteer if you didn't want to see them all the time," says Sax.
She says how far the cats have come is the true testament of the sanctuary’s role.
“Bugsy in particular was a feral cat when he got here. He didn't trust humans. We weren't even able to get close to him for a year,” she adds.
Bugsy is also being adopted by Caines and could be sent to his home as early as this weekend.
The last two cats have already moved in with a person in Ottawa and another in Montreal.
Cats were orginally "employed" on the Hill as a means of pest control.
Irene Desormeaux first began establishing the cat colony in 1970, when she started feeding the cats at the sanctuary's current location.
Rene Chartrand, known as the "Cat Man", began helping her with the cats in the mid-80s and built the original cat condos.
The Cats on the Hill have become a popular tourist attraction over the years. Videos from Japan and China showcase the sanctuary as a highlight of visiting Parliament Hill.
Sax says future lunch breaks will be tough, but her memories of the cats will not fade.
“At least we do have to pictures and the stories. We'll remember them and tell people about them. They won't be forgotten.”
With a report from CTV’s John Hua