Bylaw would be the cat’s meow

A Campbell River resident is urging city council to do something about what she calls an “unregulated menace to neighbourhoods.”

A Campbell River resident is urging city council to do something about what she calls an “unregulated menace to neighbourhoods.”

Samantha Panchyshyn is talking about cats, which she would like to see regulated under the city’s animal control bylaw.

Panchyshyn, in a letter to council, says that a case can be made to restrict the movement of cats as they ruin gardens and make sandboxes health hazards with the excrement they leave behind.

“They also harass and kill local song birds, including climbing trees to go after young birds in nests,” Panchyshyn wrote. “They also go after outdoor aviaries and small pets such as rabbits and hens that are often kept outside. They are an unregulated menace to neighbourhoods.”

She said if the city required cats to be licensed, cats who destroy private property and who go missing could be identified, along with their owners. Council, at its Monday meeting, was in receipt of Panchyshyn’s letter but Coun. Charlie Cornfield wasn’t sure if the city was in a position to implement cat control.

“I remember a number of years ago that the cat issue was a problem and we had talked about licensing or even requiring them to be belled and at the time the (former) city clerk had indicated that cats had freedom of the realm, it goes back to the plague days and the fact you can’t license or restrict cats,” Cornfield said. “I wanted to know if that still stood because…I think it’s Kelowna and Calgary that have cat bylaws.”

City Clerk Peter Wipper said he had heard the same, but said he would report back to council.

The City of Calgary, according to its website, does have a bylaw that requires cat owners to license their cats and ensure their cats do not disturb the peace by howling or crying, do not damage others’ property, do not scatter garbage, do not chase, threaten or attack a person or an animal, and remain on the owner’s property.

The Town of Port McNeill requires all cats to be licensed and the owners of a cat who defecates on another person’s property to remove the defecated matter. Panchyshyn says she would like to see cats restricted to their owner’s property, similar to the bylaw adopted in Calgary. She says leashes, tethers and full enclosures work as well for cats as they do dogs.

“Cats should not be allowed to run free any more than a dog should be. Some cats have bacteria that can cause cat scratch fever, which is a bacterial infection that can cause serious health issues,” she says.

In the meantime, Cornfield said he looks forward to the report from staff clarifying whether cats can be added to the city’s animal control bylaw.

“I know it’s been an issue for a number of people and I want to make sure the answer I’m giving them is correct,” he said.