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Cat owners are not required to keep their cat(s) leashed or indoors. Owners, who reside in an area of the City where the zoning permits residential land use, are expected, under the Animal Care and Control by-law, to control kitty's outdoor activities and take responsibility by not allowing their cat to cause damage to or disturbance on other residents' property. This does not apply to a cat owner who resides on land zoned agricultural, general rural, rural, rural-agricultural or marginal resource in the applicable zoning by-laws of the old municipalities.

Spaying or neutering your pet

Being a responsible pet owner includes having your pet spayed or neutered (sterilized). A controlled pet population lowers the incidence of disease, and — in the long term — reduces the cost of animal control. Proof of sterilization reduces the cost of registering your pet and must be submitted with your registration form. This proof includes one of the following:

  • Spay/Neuter Certificate received following the surgery
  • Signed note from a qualified veterinarian
  • Copy of an invoice from a veterinary facility identifying the animal as spayed or neutered
  • Copy of your adoption agreement, as applicable

Advantages of spaying your female pet:

  • Eliminates the heat cycle and associated symptoms such as crying, nervous pacing, the desire to roam and the excretion of blood
  • Stops unwelcome visits by male suitors
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer, one of the most common malignancies in the female feline
  • Prevents diseases of the uterus and ovaries as well as some skin disorders

Advantages of neutering your male pet:

  • Reduces or eliminates the tendency to mark territory with strong-smelling urine
  • Prevents prostate disease and certain cancers
  • May reduce the likelihood that your pet will stray from home and become lost or injured

Common myths about spaying or neutering

Spaying or neutering my pet will cause obesity — False. Exercise and proper diet will keep your pet healthy and active.

My female pet needs to have a heat period and litter to round out her personality. — False. There is no proven benefit in allowing the animal to have a heat period or a litter prior to spaying.

During the surgery

A qualified veterinarian must perform both types of surgeries. The procedures are performed under full anaesthesia and sterile conditions.

The spaying of a cat or dog involves the removal of the female reproductive tract. The neutering of a cat or dog involves the removal of the male testes. These surgeries can be performed on cats 5 months or older, and dogs 5 months or older.

Private veterinary clinics also offer spay/neuter services. Check the Yellow Pages for complete listings or consult with your own veterinarian for details on this important aspect of responsible pet ownership.

Limits on the number of dogs and cats

The limits on the number of dogs and cats, over 20 weeks of age, per household within the City of Ottawa are as follows:

  • three dogs in all areas of the City
  • five cats in areas not zoned agricultural
  • where both dogs and cats are kept, a total of five animals, with a maximum of three dogs
  • no restriction on the number of cats kept in areas zoned agricultural

Discover how to protect yourself and others from vicious dogs and which communities allow dogs to have their day in the park.

Do you have more creatures to care for? Find out which provisions apply to exotic animals.


Thousands of stray dogs and cats are brought to the municipal pound each year because these animals don’t have – or aren’t wearing – identifying tags. About 60 per cent of dogs and six per cent of cats are claimed by their owners. Though many of these pets find new homes through the Ottawa Humane Society's Adoption Centre, those pets which can’t be placed are humanely euthanized. Microchips provide a permanent means of pet identification. Microchips store owner information, which is used to return your lost pet to you. The Ottawa Humane Society holds microchip clinics on a regular basis. Private veterinary clinics and the City's Spay/Neuter Clinic also offer microchipping services. 

Why microchip my pet?

  • Permanent: A microchip is good for the life of your pet.
  • Painless: This tiny chip can be placed under the skin while your pet is asleep for other procedures such as spay/neuter.
  • North American-Wide Protection: Your pet’s information is accessible by any scanner in North America and can even be transferred internationally.
  • Pay only once: A one-time fee protects your pet for life.
  • Even indoor pets can escape: Be safe and microchip your pet!

Lost and found pets

Lost cat/dog

Losing a pet can be a traumatic experience for both the owner and the pet. By identifying and registering your cat or dog with the City of Ottawa, you are helping to ensure that your pet is reunited with you if it becomes lost. It has been our experience that a cat or dog with a registration tag attached to its collar/harness is often returned to the owner the same day that it is found. Without one, the owner must search all nearby shelters and animal hospitals looking for his/her cat or dog.

As soon as you notice that your cat or dog is missing, immediately check around your home and neighbourhood. Ask friends and neighbours if they have seen your pet and if so, when and where. If your pet is not found after your initial search, contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 or the Ottawa Humane Society at 613-725-9998 to file a lost pet report. Be prepared to provide a description of your pet, a registration tag number, and a microchip number, if applicable.

Visit the local animal shelter in person and bring a colour photograph of your pet. The local shelter is at the Ottawa Humane Society located at 245 West Hunt Club Road, Nepean. If your pet is not wearing a tag or does not have microchip identification, only you can visibly identify your missing pet. Make sure you also check your local veterinary clinics as, often, residents who find a lost pet, take it to the nearest animal hospital.

Place notices, preferably with a photograph of your missing pet, at local stores and animal hospitals. Place your own advertisements in the lost and found sections of the local newspapers and ask the local radio and cable stations if they will mention your lost pet. Don't give up. Sometimes a lost cat or dog will turn up months later.

Found cat/dog

If you have found a lost cat/dog and it is wearing a City of Ottawa registration tag, contact the City at 3-1-1. By-law Services staff are available to check the database to locate the registered owner during the following hours of operation:

May long weekend to Labour Day:

7 days/week - 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Other times of year:

Sunday to Thursday – 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Friday and Saturday - 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

If you have found a cat/dog that is not wearing a City of Ottawa tag, please take it to the Ottawa Humane Society (613-725-3166 – call first for hours of operation) or call 3-1-1 if you require assistance. The pet will be scanned for a microchip, which may provide information on the registered owner and can be checked against lost animal reports.

Animal hit by a car

If you come across an animal that has been hit by a car, contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1.