Cats on a leash: City could curtail freedom of free-roaming felines

Jul 7 2022, 6:55 pm

They might be cute, they might be fluffy, but they’re deadly enough that the city is proposing a new bylaw that would prevent cats from roaming outdoors.

The issue of unleashed cats was addressed during the Economic and Development Committee’s July 6 meeting.

Nathalie Kavonen, executive director of Toronto Wildlife Centre, stated that in 2021 alone, free-roaming cats were responsible for killing an estimated 200 million birds across Canada.

She said that the centre has been so overwhelmed by calls from residents trying to save baby birds from neighbourhood cats that they’ve had to stop answering the calls altogether, which she describes as a “heartbreaking” decision.

“A resident would say, ‘I’ve got a baby bird on my lawn, the mother is trying to feed it and I’m worried the nieghbourhood cat is going to kill it,'” said Kavonen. “The only thing we could do was say, ‘You’re probably right, the neighbourhood cat is probably going to kill it.'”

But it’s not just birds that are attacked by cats.

Mammals such as squirrels, chipmunk, and rabbits aren’t safe from these highly skilled predators.

However, free-roaming cats aren’t just a danger to smaller creatures; outside the home or unsupervised they become “part of the food chain.”

“They themselves are preyed upon by larger wild animals, said Kavonen.

Worse still, cats are often hit by cars — in one year, Toronto Animal Services picked up 1,300 dead cats on the road.

Kavonen concluded by urging the city for an anti-r0aming bylaw to protect the city’s wildlife.

“There are great options,” she suggested. “Take them out on a leash or a cat enclosure.”

The bylaw change will be discussed during the next committee meeting.

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