I first noticed it when my dog died. I had not realized that she was providing so much protection from roving cats.
Of course, she was fenced in the backyard much of the day, so she was unable to prevent the little wandering felines from pissing in the front garden and in my wood shed.
I didn’t really need that pungent, acrid odour to tell me we were suffering from an infestation of free-range cats, though, because I often surprised them lurking about our house then slinking rapidly out of sight.
But once the dog died, the cats began coming into the backyard. Evidence would suggest they have mistaken our vegetable garden for a kitty litter box.
This is a concern as we cannot share any of our fresh garden produce with our pregnant daughter-in-law when she visits because of the toxoplasmosis.
And with no dog keeping them at bay, they began to stalk the songbirds at our feeders — even walking quite boldly on our deck.
That was when I called the animal shelter to see what I could do to protect our property and the songbirds from these furry little predators.
It turns out we have no bylaws in Terrace governing cat ownership. While dog owners are held to a standard of care, there is no such standard for cat owners, no onus of responsibility on them at all.
A quick google showed me that many municipalities require cat owners to act responsibly: Victoria, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Halifax, and London were the first examples, and they had their pet ownership guidelines clearly laid out on line.
Generally, these municipalities asked the same of all domestic pet owners, whether cat or dog: license your pet (always cheaper if they are spayed or neutered), keep your pet under control, don’t let them wander on others’ private property without permission.
You’d think it would be common sense or perhaps common courtesy. But old habits die hard and some people just let their cats roam free.
While I was Googling, I also came across the interesting information that cats are responsible for the death of about 200 million birds annually in Canada. That is a staggering number.
In the U.S. the number is about 3.7 billion.
This is particularly disturbing when estimates of the population of all land birds in North America are between 10 and 20 billion.
If you think those numbers are high-graded or biased, spend a few minutes on Google yourself. See what you find.
The point of this letter is don’t you think it is time for Terrace to adopt some bylaws and regulations concerning the responsibilities of cat ownership? They would be easy to draft; there are many Canadian models.
(In the interim I would appreciate some suggestions on how to get the reek of cat piss out of a plywood shed floor).