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.)

No-Free Roam bylaws 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 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 public education is also very important, and we can help municipalities with cat-positive, bird-positive communications strategies to encourage their citizens to keep cats safe & save bird lives. (For more information, email us at info@catsandbirds.ca.)

Many municipalities have already adopted No-Free Roam Bylaws, but haven’t included the necessary elements to make for real change. Calgary has an extremely effective model that includes licensing, no free roam, 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 freely. 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.

There are also successful models in other communities, including small towns and rural areas. Many smaller communities find it helpful to provide their citizens with information about the issue, and we can help you craft those communications.

Adopting a bylaw incorporating no free roam for cats in your community is a great first step, but without a public education campaign, bylaws do little to change cat owners’ behaviour.

** Read about our Safe Cats, Safe Birds Award for Municipalities here.

For more information, contact info@catsandbirds.ca.

KEEP CATS SAFE. SAVE BIRD LIVES. BUILD HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES

It’s better for cats. It’s better for birds. It’s better for people.

Please see the Resources for Municipalities listed below.

Here is a sampling of municipalities that have adopted no-roam bylaws for cats:

municipal-word-cloud