Kenai Council proposes cats be restrained outdoors by ‘a leash, fence or building’

Should it be a city ordinance for cats to be on restrained outdoors in the same manner as dogs with either a leash, a fence or a building? To understand today’s discussion, please read this article posted September 23 in, which has local news for Kenai, Alaska.

View of downtown Kenai (wikipedia)
View of downtown Kenai (wikipedia)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Basically, an ordinance has been proposed by Kenai Mayor Pat Porter and council member Tim Navarre after complaints were received from residents about roaming cats. The cats are said to be roaming at large, defecating on private property, destroying plant beds and basically preventing residents from enjoying their property.

Should the ordinance pass, cats will be required at all times to be physically confined by a leash, chain, fence or building. Violation of the ordinance would max our at $500 per violation. Due to council members Mike Boyle and Bob Molloy being absent this past Wednesday, the hearing and vote were unanimously postponed until October 5.

Kenai Animal Control Officer Jessica Hendrickson wrote in an email about the cat complaints saying

“We have noticed an increase in the amount of calls with complaints about cats in the past several months. Because we do not have a current Kenai Municipality Code regarding cat confinement, we do not keep detailed records regarding confinement complaints.”

In other words, there are no real statistics about the free-roaming cat problem because none were ever needed before. City council members are checking into whether any other cities in Alaska have a city cat ordinance and how effective such an ordinance has been.

There are a lot of problems, should this ordinance pass. One is that it will create too much of a strain on Animal Control. The Kenai shelter can comfortably house 16 cats. In August 34 cats were voluntarily given up by owners and 13 were brought in as strays, either as impounds by animal control or by residents who trapped them. A cat spends an average of 5-10 days at the shelter before being adopted. Some are there up to a month. The majority go to rescue centers. Imagine the increase in how many cats will end up at the shelter if the ordinance is passed on October 5.

With everyone trapping cats, they’re learning a lot of trapped cats are feral, meaning there ia no legal owner who can be fined for non-compliance. Ryan Marquis, former council member and Kenai resident says the proposed ordinance is flawed because it assumes compliance.

“Are you prepared to increase Animal Control’s budget to support this new program? And remember, it’s not just additional food that the Shelter would need to acquire, it’s the personnel hours involved with chasing after complaint cats, other expenses associated with housing, time spent dealing with owners and the additional costs associated with increased euthanizations and vaccinations.”

The Kenai shelter’s budget for the Fiscal year 2017 is $421,265. City Manager Rick Koch says that’s more than enough to support a cat leash ordinance. Whether is a supportable option and whether it will work in a real life situation are two different things.

Readers, do you believe a cat leash ordinance will work? Does it work anywhere? Wouldn’t it be better to give back to the community and support a TNR project to naturally reduce the number of cats roaming the city and a low-cost spay/neuter program (complete with educating the public that it’s best for the cat to live indoors) for cats who have owners?

Please sound off in the comments.


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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

4 thoughts on “Kenai Council proposes cats be restrained outdoors by ‘a leash, fence or building’”

  1. Many municipalities unfortunately have such ordinances. Lexington County, SC has had one for more than 20 years, and as someone who runs a cat rescue here I can assure you it has done absolutely nothing to reduce the number of free-roaming community or feral cats in Lexington County despite increases every year in animal control budget. Such an ordinance effectively means that cats either have to be leashed when outside or confined within cat-proof fencing or an enclosure, which many people unfortunately are not willing to do, and is difficult to enforce against unowned cats. As Elisa points out, TNR for community cats, as practiced successfully (over 1,000 cats spayed/neutered) by, for example, the City of West Columbia, SC for the past 3 years would be a far better investment by Kenai. Had Lexington county done this andd established a free/low-cost spay/neuter program as I suggested 20 years ago, they could long ago have greatly reduced the number of cats euthanized annually in their kill shelter and reduced instead of increased animal control’s budget, thus saving taxpayers instead of taxing them further. And common sense says why would you legislate confinement of cats while doing nothing about opossums, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and other free-roaming animals and birds who may well also be frequenting the same areas as the cats and probably doing more damage. Cats at least give back by keeping vermin down. There are fairly simple, inexpensive measures for deterring cats from private property, Kenai – just check out Alley Cat Allies’ website for a list.

  2. Sadie Ann Onymousamputies

    That is silly. The reason why there are so many feral cats is because owners don’t want to pay the fines. They wait the average 5-10 days and adopt the same cat.

  3. Can’t treat a cat like a dog. They simply aren’t as “leashable” and everyone knows it. Population should just be addressed by spay and neuter programs.

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