The Purrfect World of Port Moody: Cat Owner Responsibilities

I believe true feline lovers everywhere would agree that all pet cats need to either be kept inside or completely controlled.

The Port Moody townhome strata corporation where I have lived for over four years has very clear bylaws for the control of pets and the responsibilities of pet owners. Here’s an excerpt: “A resident or visitor must ensure that all animals are leashed or otherwise secured when on the common property or on land that is a common asset (SPA 3 (3)).”

For venturing outside, the use of a secured leash or providing a fully contained area are, of course, excellent humane options. Starting in 1999, my ex-wife and I caringly trained Clio and Ringo, two young cats (both from a local shelter) to wear a leash, so I know first-hand it can be done. Just Google images for “cats on a leash” to see what I mean.

We are all pet lovers, but that doesn’t give us the right as owners to cause unreasonable noise, nuisance, or interference with other owners, residents, or their property. This is why strata and city bylaws clearly prohibit such activities. Relinquishing responsibility (e.g., who is cleaning up the cat waste from the children’s sandbox outside) by leaving domesticated cats to fend for themselves outside is simply wrong.

The average home roaming range for pet cats is more than 4 acres, which covers a lot of private property. Most often, this outdoor range includes roads with traffic, and the tragedy of cats allowed free rein is seen every day on neighbourhood streets. There are some awful YouTube videos of the resultant lethal accidents, including life endangerment to humans.

Several concerned neighbours in my strata (about three or four so far this year alone) have posted comments on Facebook about the horrific noises they hear when pet cats are taken by coyotes but, inexplicably, I still see new cats freely wandering the hood. If cruelty is defined as behaviour that causes pain or suffering to a person or animal, why do pet owners think it is okay to risk letting their pets roam outside? Cats still occasionally get out despite containment, and it’s mind boggling that sufficient identification and contact details often aren’t provided on collars.

In the purrfect world of Port Moody, pet cats would be able to enjoy the natural outdoors freely, like feral cats, but the outdoors poses countless threats. Cats allowed to freely wander outside will encounter various wildlife, including endangered birds, and the viruses and illnesses harboured by other cats and many other species, as well as the threat of unwanted pregnancy.

The killing of birds (and bees) was one of the reasons that Port Moody banned the use of pesticides in 1988, but according to study findings, free-roaming cats each kill on average about 10 birds per year, although, “…not my little Tiger!” is a common denial.

It is well known that the life expectancy of outdoor cats is significantly shortened versus that of indoor-only house cats. Even the vaccination of pet cats will not eliminate the threat of disease transmission when cats are exposed to the outdoors.

These are the reasons why I strongly believe that pet cats need to be kept inside or completely controlled.

All animals need to be treated like dependent juvenile children who can’t fend for themselves. The responsibility of guardianship cannot be abdicated. Neglect cannot be justified and I would challenge any pet owner (or parent) who thinks differently to be fully accountable and then try to explain why they shouldn’t be criminally prosecuted.

Ensure you are a responsible pet owner – your pets and your neighbours will thank you. This has been the final post in a three part series on responsible pet owners in the Tri-Cities. See my posts about responsible pet ownership and animal bylaws in the Tri-Cities.

The Purrfect World of Port Moody: Cat Owner Responsibilities
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