Threatening cat message in North Saanich sparks indoor cat bylaw conversations

Threatening cat message in North Saanich sparks indoor cat bylaw conversations
Rebecca Lawrence
A disturbing note left in North Saanich regarding trapping cats has sparked the discussion on whether the CRD should allow cats to roam.

On Wednesday, a disturbing note was left on a mailbox in North Saanich. The anonymous person threatening to capture any cats that roam on their property and not return them.

“It just seems a little bit threatening. Obviously, somebody doesn’t like cats,” said Ken Brown, a resident in the area where the note was found. “If I had a cat still, I’d be worried.”

MORE DETAILS: Message posted in North Saanich threatening to catch roaming cats, not return them

While it’s sparking outrage in the region, it’s also sparking the discussion of an indoor cat bylaw, and whether or not cats should be roaming free in Greater Victoria.

“The time has come for us to take better care of our cats,” said Ann Nightingale of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory, who says all municipalities should have a bylaw that prohibits cats from roaming around outside, unattended.
“It’s safer for their cats and for the wildlife. They’re the only pet we’d even consider letting roam alone outside. I wouldn’t let my horse roam, or my hamster. Dogs used to roam around free when I was a child, but as the years went on, laws and regulations came into place,” said Nightingale.

Nightingale, an avid bird watcher says keeping cats inside would protect bird populations.

According to Environment Canada, 116 million birds are killed by feral cats every year. Domestic cats kill approximately 80 million per year.

Comparatively, power lines kill 26.5 million birds, and vehicles kill 13.8 million every year.

Another concern is the cat feces left behind in people’s yards, which can be dangerous for children and pregnant women.

Nightingale also worries about the safety of the cats themselves, with the risk of them consuming anti-freeze and getting hit by vehicles.

“I think it’s great some municipalities have moved towards responsible pet ownership, lets keep talking about it that way, lets take care of the pets we say we love,” said Nightingale, who is also a cat owner.

Nine out of the CRD’s 13 municipalities have a $100 fine if your cat is found roaming, but it’s hard to enforce.

“We don’t issue those tickets every often,” said the CRD’s chief bylaw officer Don Brown. “When most people see a cat running around they don’t really see its an issue.”

He also says cats are harder to catch than dogs, and often are not microchipped or tattooed, making it difficult to get them home to their owners when captured.

Leslie Steeves of ROAM, or Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing, has heard from many cat owners who do not support the bylaw.

“People move out here to the country so they can have that kind of lifestyle where their cats can be out and be free,” said Steeves.

She also says owners like to have outdoor cats to help control the rodent population, and that there are other ways to keep birds safe.

“This is a huge issue there are collars and bells, there’s keeping your cats indoors and only letting them out at night, there are solutions,” said Steeves.

While Saanich and other municipalities have dropped the idea of an indoor cat bylaw, Nightgale hopes they’ll reconsider.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!