Two cats peer out from inside a “catio” created by Beautiful World Living Environments. Wild ARC says huge numbers of birds and other small creatures are injured or killed by outdoor cats. (Facebook/Beautiful World Living Environments)

Group wants Saanich to lick roaming cat problem

Citizens for Responsible Cat Ownership will push for new bylaw Monday

A citizens group wants Saanich to pass a responsible pet ownership bylaw in Saanich with a focus on cats.

The group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Cat Ownership will appear before Saanich council Monday in asking the municipality to follow Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Central Saanich in passing a cat protection bylaw.

“In a perfect world, cats would be licensed,” said the group’s presentation. “If that is not realistic at this point, then a complaint-driven process would improve the situation.”

RELATED: Victoria Natural History Society asks district to keep cats under control

RELATED: LETTER: Cat owners dodge same responsibility as dog owners

The presentation says among other points that roaming cat harm the environment and biodiversity. A 2013 paper estimates that cats kill between 100 and 350 million birds per year in Canada in noting that “cat predation is likely to remain a primary source of bird mortality in Canada for some time.”

Harm to biodiversity is a serious issue, the group’s presentation notes. “Dogs are strictly controlled in sensitive areas like Swan Lake and Rithet’s Bog,” it reads. “Yet, cats are allowed to roam freely with devastating results to bird and small animal populations.”

This aspect actually undermines larger environmental goals, it reads. Saanich, the report notes, recognizes the important role of birds in controlling harmful insects such as mosquitoes by installing bird nest boxes near water features. But the municipality appears “wasted” when roaming cats prey on birds the municipality is trying to encourage.

RELATED: Poison found near Vic West off-leash dog park

Roaming cats can also be carriers of various diseases to other domestic animals, wildlife, and humans. “Not just fleas and ticks, but worms, parasites and viruses,” it reads. “There’s a big health benefit if we stop cats from roaming.”

Cats also fail to respect private property and defecate in children’s play areas.

The report also notes that a bylaw would also benefit cats themselves.

Cats can be kept safe and happy at home, just like other pets, and trained to walk on a leash, it reads.

“If you want your cat to have access to the outdoors, fence-top rollers keep cats from escaping,” it reads. “Or provide a “catio”, which is an enclosed outdoor area.”


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