It’s important that municipalities promote positive change for cats and birds for the sake of animal welfare, peaceful neighbour relations, environmental stewardship, and public health reasons. Indeed, municipalities have a leadership role to play in changing the way Canadians take care of our pet cats, as well as the burgeoning population of stray and feral cats. (That’s why we launched the Safe Cats, Safe Birds Municipal Award. You can download nomination forms and read more about the Award here.)
We advocate for the introduction of no-roam bylaws, which place the responsibility for pet cats precisely where it belongs, with cat owners. They send the message that cats are valued pets and we need to take better care of them. No-roam bylaws can serve to improve the welfare of pet cats, help to decrease the influx of pets into the homeless cat population, and provide a safer environment for birds. But without public education about why bylaws are a positive step, they often fail to convince cat owners to keep their cats safe and save bird lives. Our recommendations include not only bylaws and public education, but also collaborating with local stakeholders to develop a strategy and messaging, mandatory identification and/or licensing, accessible spay/neuter and feral cat-care programs. We can help municipalities create a local cat strategy, and provide examples of cat-positive, bird-positive communications strategies to encourage their citizens to participate in a local effort to improve cat and bird welfare. (For more information, email us at email@example.com.)
Calgary has an extremely effective model that includes licensing, no roaming at large, a subsidized spay-neuter program, the promise to return escaped cats, and perhaps most importantly, a public awareness campaign. Shelters are financed from licensing revenue, and feral cats are cared for by the Meow Foundation, a consortium of not-for-profit organizations.
Calgary’s model is ideal because it has all of the components to motivate cat lovers to comply with the bylaw and it’s self-financing. The public awareness campaign educates people about the dangers faced by outdoor cats, and why it’s important to keep cats from roaming unsupervised. The promise to return serves as motivation to license cats, and licensing revenue supports sheltering, enforcement and the return of escapees. These components, not the bylaw itself, are what gives Calgary the highest rates of compliance in the country. Read more about the Calgary model here.
There are also successful models in other communities, including small towns and rural areas.
For more information, or to receive a copy of our “Briefing Note & Recommended Bylaws”, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEEP CATS SAFE. SAVE BIRD LIVES. BUILD HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES
It’s better for cats. It’s better for birds. It’s better for people.
** Read about our Safe Cats, Safe Birds Award for Municipalities here.
Here is a sampling of municipalities that have adopted no-roam bylaws for cats: