Penticton cat owners are being warned to think twice about letting their furry friends roam outside.
As residents concentrated in the Wiltse area continue to raise alarm that loose cats have been suffering acts of animal cruelty, City of Penticton poundkeeper Elizabeth Bigg has offered some advice.
“In the area we’re in, you have land and air predators, which play a huge role in cats going missing,” said Bigg, who operates the dog control department. “Licensing helps in terms of returning animals, but so does microchipping and tattooing.”
Unlike dogs, cats do not need to be leashed or licensed in Penticton. Bigg does not take calls for stray or roaming cats since the bylaw is only concerned with stray or roaming dogs.
However, Bigg does pick up deceased animals, including cats, to help find the owner and give them some closure.
She said she can understand why cat owners allow their pets to roam freely, but also sees it from the perspective of people who don’t want stray cats on their property.
“As far as keeping them in, some cats are just not that easy. I mean, they’re natural wanderers,” said Bigg. “I know it’s conflicting, because people don’t want them in their yards or gardens.”
Bigg also said she tries to encourage cat owners to install catios – covered enclosures that allow cats to go outside without allowing them to leave the property.
“I know there’s an expense (to catios), but at least the cat get’s a bit of both worlds, which is what they need,” she said. “They still have to do things that are natural to them, and you want to promote that for their well-being.”
Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said he would support a bylaw to have local cats licensed the same way as dogs.
Vassilaki said such a bylaw would help return lost pets to their owners and allow the city to track the welfare of cats that frequently roam free.
“I don’t really mind whether folks in the community keep their cats indoors or outdoors, as long as they look after them to make sure that they’re well fed and kept healthy,” Vassilaki said.
“We don’t make much of a revenue with licensing. The book work and the staff time is nowhere near covered by the licensing fee,” he added. “So people can’t say it’s just another tax grab. That’s not the case.”
Bigg said that if the city were to implement a bylaw adding cats under her pound operation, a new facility would need to be constructed to properly care for impounded cats.
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