Can Greater Victoria municipalities be purr-suaded to start licensing their cats?
The Victoria Natural History Society hopes so.
The 750-member society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in Greater Victoria asking them to consider covering cats under animal control regulations.
“Cats that roam free, whether owned, stray or feral, often lead short, traumatic and painful lives,” the letter reads. “They also kills birds and other wildlife, and spread disease to other cats, wildlife and humans.”
The society recommends that domestic cats should be licensed and vaccinated against rabies as well as confined to their owner’s property or physically restrained when off the premises.
READ MORE: VIDEO: Nearly 60 feral cats caught in one B.C. neighbourhood
It also recommends cats should be spayed/neutered if over six months of age unless the owner has an annual intact permit, breeder’s permit or the cat requires medical exemptions.
Phil Lambert, the society’s president, said many studies show that domestic cats kill millions of birds across North America. He said the society advocates for nature and local species and cats pose a threat to them.
“Some people defend cats by saying they kill rats too,” Lambert said. “But they are often bringing birds to the front or back door of your home.”
Out of the 13 districts they have contacted, Lambert said the society has heard back from about five of them stating they have received the letter.
Claudia Copley sits on the Victoria Natural History Society board and has been advocating for control over domestic cats for about a decade.
She said controlling cats is an important issue that can be easily fixed through licensing and not allowing them to roam free.
“From a cat-lover’s perspective, I think the cat is safer and less vulnerable if inside,” Copley said. “You wouldn’t put it at risk by letting it free-roam.”
Copley noted that dogs are not allowed to free-roam the same way cats are.
According to the BC SPCA, the province has a pet overpopulation problem with thousands of kittens being born every day. Spaying and neutering cats can help reduce the problem.
Domestic cats that free-roam and aren’t spayed or neutered also contribute to the feral cat problem, according to Copley.
“[Feral cats] sometimes start off as dumped cats,” Copley said. “It’s an indication of how we undervalue cats.”
Copley and Lambert both said they would like to see the Capital Regional District introduce bylaws to help control cats in order to keep them and the surrounding wildlife safe.
They mention other cities such as Calgary do not allow cats to be at large and recommend keeping cats indoors.
“I would love it if as a whole the CRD adopted the same bylaws as other places and educated others about the free roaming and feral cat problem,” Copley said.