cat_manJust a stone’s throw from where important decisions are made each day affecting the future of Canadians, there is a colony of stray cats who sit and wait patiently for their good friend, 81-year-old Rene Chartrand, "The Cat Man" of Parliament Hill.


Every day, no matter the weather, Rene travels across town from his small apartment to carry out his labour of love and kindness for the 26 spayed and neutered stray cats who call Parliament Hill their home. Spry and fit, Rene’s eyes twinkle with delight as he patiently identifies each of his furry charges by name. And in turn, you can hear the soft rumbling purrs and see that they return his affection as they crowd around his feet and rub up gently against his legs.

My son, Pierce and I had a chance to meet "The Cat Man" in person, and learned of his great love and devotion to his feline friends. For over 16 years, Rene has faithfully cared for his charges, and estimates that it cost nearly $6,000 a year to provide them with food, litter, veterinary care and to make sure that the little houses he has built for them are kept in good repair. Rene donates his time and energy, and often his own money, while coins dropped into a donation box help pay for the rest.

Rene says originally cats were kept in and around Parliament Hill to keep down the population of rats and mice, but over the years a colony began to establish. He first learned of the cats from an elderly neighbour, Irene Desormeaux, who lived in his apartment building and used to care for them. Up until her death in 1987, Rene helped her and for the last sixteen years, has assumed the mantle of responsibility.

Rene says that he will carry on with his responsibilities until he is no longer able, but that he was worried about what would happen to his four-footed friends, when he was no longer able to care for them. During our visit, we made a donation to help pay for food and veterinary care and told him that whenever he or the cats needed us, we would be there for them.

We are also pleased to announce that after careful consideration, Rene Chartrand will be the recipient of The Humane Society of Canada’s coveted Heroes for Animals Award recognizing Rene’s lifetime achievement in caring for animals.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at via twitter at and on Facebook at:

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

The only organization of its kind, seven days a week, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works across the street, across Canada and around the world helping people, animals and the environment.

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) depends entirely on donations to support our programs to help animals and the environment. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. If you would like to support our educational campaigns that protect animals and the environment please make a donation here. Because when it comes to fighting cruelty and violence, we don’t give up. Ever.