Parliament Hill makes a good place to visit with kids when the weather is nice. There’s the eternal flame, the huge lawns, the gazebo behind the Library of Parliament, and one of the strangest, coolest things about Ottawa: Cat Hill.
I find it hard to imagine a colony of feral cats maintained and visited right next to the White House, or 10 Downing Street (not quite the same thing as the parliament buildings, I know, but still…) But here, in Canada, right next to the seat of the federal government, that’s what we have (and the raccoons that share their food).
Cat Hill is a small set of covered hutches that are home to several stray cats. The hutches are behind a wrought-iron fence, with wide enough spacing for the cats to slip in and out of, but tall enough to keep anyone (especially kids) from casually wandering into their home.
More formally, Cat Hill is known as the Canadian Parliamentary Cats. The cats are all spayed or neutered, regularly fed, and receive veterinary care. You’ll notice a small a donation box to help with the costs. Cat Hill was started back in the 1970s, and is home to about 11 cats (thank you Wikipedia!).
I find Cat Hill itself can eat up a good half or hour so, not counting travel time and other features nearby. In good weather, there’s a few cats out on the “people” side of the fence, and they can be quite friendly. You’ll note most of them look really well fed, and they’ve had their ears and tails “trimmed” from frostbite.
Needless to say, be careful when kids approach the cats – while many of the cats seem entirely comfortable with humans, but there’s no guarantees. Watch out for potential bites or scratches.
Usually when we’ve visited, we’ve had bad luck with the weather, and the cats have kept in their homes. Still, the pigeons, squirrels, and raccoons kept the kids occupied, and we’ve explored the general area. Plus, it can be a good place to take visitors to Ottawa – not only do you get to do the obligatory parliament building look-see, but you might get a cat on your lap as part of the bargain.
Zach is the dad of a 3.5 year daughter “the girl” and twenty month old son “the boy”. Zach doesn’t have his own blog but he is blogged about at Capital Mom.