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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 – identification tags. About 70 per cent of dogs and 10 per cent of cats are claimed by their owners. Many unclaimed pets find new homes through the Ottawa Humane Society's Adoption Centre. 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!