LETTER: Only good can come from licencing cats

A Jan. 18 Saanich News article entitled “Greater Victoria group calls for cats to be licenced” makes some excellent points. Cats should not be allowed to roam, as it exposes them to many risks and is detrimental to the bird/animal species they prey on. This is supported by the BCSPCA. I would like to add some points.

Saanich recognizes the importance of community (including back yard) gardens as a means of reducing our carbon footprint and increasing food security. Allowing roaming cats to defecate in and urinate on neighbouring gardens discourages home grown food and spreads disease to both humans and animals.

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Studies have shown that roaming cats are by far the largest killers of birds (200 million/year in Canada) and animals that keep damaging insect populations at bay, both in urban forests and gardens (which absorb CO2). The Journal of Pesticide Reform cited how growers can be “rewarded by bird’s participation in the ‘pest management’ program[s]” and “provide insect control and eliminate the need for insecticide applications”.

We should protect our forests, gardens and the environment by encouraging birds. While Saanich is reducing the use of plastics in order to protect marine species, it is sadly lacking when it comes to protecting species in our own backyard when we allow cats to roam.

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Saanich, recognizing the spread of the West Nile virus and other diseases through mosquitoes, has constructed bird (nesting) boxes near water features. Many bird species eat mosquitoes, so are an effective solution. Saanich has also erected signs in the same areas indicating that domestic cats prey on these same birds, hoping to change owner behaviour. Unfortunately roaming cats continue to diminish the effectiveness of the bird box program and waste the tax dollars that fund it.

Don’t kid yourself that cats control harmful rodents. We have had eight roaming cats visiting our property along with a rat problem.

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For cats to have the same protection from abuse as dogs they should be licenced. If we aren’t going to licence cats, we (at the very least) need to address the above mentioned issues by creating a similar cat control bylaw in Saanich as is found in Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Central Saanich. I urge Saanich to act now. I also urge others to put pressure on Saanich.

J. St.Gelais

Saanich

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