The Domino effect: Cat’s plight a cautionary tale


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/08/2022 (305 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Almost 500 cats are found dead on or near roadways in Winnipeg each year.

“When you let your cat roam, you place it at risk,” according to the City of Winnipeg’s responsible pet ownership bylaw.

However, a South Osborne resident whose cat nearly died after they stopped letting him roam the neighbourhood is warning other cat owners considering this transition to proceed with caution.

Domino the cat has had difficulty adjusting to a new, more-indoor focused routine — to the point that he’s required veterinary care.

K. Wilson’s two-year-old feline, Domino, became very distressed and developed a urinary blockage after Wilson abruptly introduced this change in Domino’s lifestyle and routine. Wilson says more than one veterinary professional advised that Domino’s condition was directly related to the stress caused by the disruption and that male cats are especially susceptible, given their narrow urethra.

While it is illegal in Winnipeg to let your cat run at large, Wilson says they brought Domino indoors for one reason alone — they feared for his safety due to growing hostility toward roaming cats in an online forum, where residents fed up with the cats were threatening to trap them, douse them with water, and even hit them with a broom.

Wilson says while they understand people’s concerns with roaming cats, it is not a black-and-white issue. After multiple hospitalizations, procedures and medications, Domino is home and recovering, but his case illustrates the hazards to the health and well-being of male cats in particular when they undergo life stressors.

“It is an incredibly difficult decision because I am so fearful that if I don’t just let him go back to his usual behaviours at this point that he’s going to get sick again,” Wilson said. “And how is somebody meant to make that decision?”

Naturally, Wilson hopes other cat owners will learn from their experience and do things differently if looking to rein in their felines. According to the Indoor Pet Initiative, an Ohio State University initiative, measures should be taken to ease a cat’s transition and to ensure that the new environment is as enriching as possible. Controlled access to the outdoors creates additional stimulation.

Wilson says they now take Domino out on a leash and are considering building an outdoor enclosure. However, they regret halting his roaming lifestyle and implore those concerned with cats running at large to direct their frustration appropriately.

“You can’t take it out on the animals. Don’t threaten them,” Wilson said. “Be angry with your neighbour, sure, but go talk to them. And then make it about you and the neighbour, don’t have resentment towards the animal.”

Tracy Groenewegen

Tracy Groenewegen
South Osborne community correspondent

Tracy Groenewegen is a community correspondent for South Osborne. She can be reached at

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