This is an interesting, potentially new law currently being debated by the Princeton City Council, USA. An ordinance (law) is going through the legislative process at the council and has reached a second reading of an amendment of the ordinance which was unanimously approved.
If the law passed and was enacted it would prevent anybody from keeping a cat within the city which causes a nuisance by crying, squalling or in any other manner disturbing the peace and quiet of any neighbourhood.
I think this is a very interesting development. My initial thought is that it is a law that will very rarely be used and it is used it will be very hard to enforce.
I think I can say with certainty that I’ve never heard a cat being a nuisance by the sounds that he or she makes at any time of the day or night. I have of course heard the old cat outside meowing or perhaps a cat making a yowling sound in a confrontation with another. But these are fleeting moments and could never be called a nuisance. You’d have to define the meaning of the word “nuisance”. How long must a cat cry for before he is deemed to be creating a nuisance? I can see a lot of arguments there. I don’t think it is workable. And it would mean tracking down the cat and then tracking down the cat’s owner. Tricky?
The new ordinance also limits the number of cats that people can keep. It prevents the keeping of an “excessive number” which has been assessed to be above four cats who are four months-of-age or older on any premises.
An exception would be a cat rescue operation which requires a permit. They would apply for a permit through Animal Control. They would have to apply at least seven days before they take in additional cats. The cats would have to be “placed” (I presume in new homes) within three months. If not the permit holder will lose their permit and would have to revert back to a maximum of four cats. Only one permit is allowed per household.
Finally, there is an obligation to vaccinate against rabies.
The reason why I am reporting on this little bit of animal law is because of the interesting reference to cats making a nuisance through vocalisations. What do you think? Perhaps the council wants to create as much quiet as possible for the undergraduates? Maybe they’ve complained!
P.S. There is an existing civil law called the tort of nuisance which is common law. Technically it could be applied in this instance but nobody has ever tried as far as I am aware. They’ve not tried because it wouldn’t succeed. This implies that the new law would also fail.
Source: the Bluefield Daily Telegraph