The City of Peterborough in Ontario Canada has created a bylaw under which cat owners can no longer let their cats roam freely.
Similar bylaws have been created at Sudbury and Brampton. There seems to be a trend against free-roaming cats. The bylaw was passed by the committee on June 20, 2016.
In addition to banning free-roaming cats, every cat owner has to ensure that their cat is licensed and provide proof of a current rabies vaccination.
One councillor, Henry Clarke, who voted in favour of the bylaw said:
“I am an animal lover… I have 3 cats and I don’t let them out.”
He added that there are too many animals on the street who are sick and living miserable lives. Keeping them indoors and at home is healthier and the cats live longer.
In addition, cat owners are required to keep their cat on a leash when outside the boundaries of the owner’s property. Further, owners must remove their cat’s excrement along the lines to which dog owners have been subjected to for some time.
The city of Peterborough is situated on the other side of Lake Ontario from New York state. It has a population of around 78,000 and covers an area of 58 km².
Comment: is this significant? It tells me that the lawmakers sitting on city councils across North America frequently discuss the issue of free roaming cats, the issue of licensing of cats (or registration), the issue of cat numbers, and the issue of feral cats and stray cats and how best to minimise their numbers.
It is a perpetual discussion topic and it is finely balanced between creating laws which restrict or limit cat ownership in some form or other or in effect leaving the domestic cat outside of the law. At the moment the domestic cat can almost do anything by which I mean roam anywhere and “trespass” without any consequences for his/her owner. That is the historical way. There is a gradual shift, possibly, towards restrictions. The city of Peterborough have taken quite a strong stance on this and I think it’s the first time that I have read about lawmakers banning free-roaming cats.
Personally, I’m not automatically for free-roaming cats. Some people think I am, but I’m not. I am for responsible cat caretaking/guardianship. Sometimes it is acceptable to let domestic cats roam freely outside of the owner’s property but often times it (a) puts the cat into hazardous situations detrimental to his health and (b) can irritate or upset neighbours. The owner needs to take a view and make a decision.
In the UK, free-roaming domestic cats very rarely irritate or upset neighbours. They are, in general, accepted. I sense that in America there is less tolerance towards wandering domestic cats especially when they wander into another person’s property and defecate there. It is a question of culture and attitude. I’m not saying one is better than the other. They are just slightly different. This law banning free-roaming cats in Peterborough is perhaps indicative of a slight shift in opinion across North America towards making it obligatory to keep cats indoors.