A cat bylaw needed in Ponoka

I would like to thank Mr. Robert Delure for putting in print what so many of us have been thinking and talking about.

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Mr. Robert Delure for putting in print what so many of us have been thinking and talking about.

We have lived in Ponoka for many years and we have been both dog owners and cat owners. We are also responsible pet owners that have not allowed our pets to run free ever. That is not to say that there has never been an escapee, but we have always dealt with it swiftly, in order to bring our pet home where it was safe and not doing damage to anyone else’s property.

It is not only unfortunate that others are not this diligent with their pets but their lack of diligence is doing a lot of damage. Let’s look at what the experts say:

In September of 2013, Environment Canada released a study on bird deaths in Canada. It showed that over 270 million birds are killed every year and a shocking majority of these are killed by cats (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/800519-environment-canada-bird-study.html).

Of that number, over 132 million are killed by cats (both domestic and stray). The next three categories combined (collisions with power-lines, buildings and vehicle strikes) only taking approximately 44 million. With a large number of species in serious decline, this should be a major concern to anyone who appreciates our little feathered friends. Even if you are not a bird enthusiast, there are many ecological reasons to save our birds.  According to some experts, the disappearance of the passenger pigeon (cats are innocent in this case) is responsible for the increase in ticks and lyme disease over the last century, showing that upsets in the bird numbers can have drastic effects.

As well as being responsible for mindboggling numbers of bird deaths, cats are also responsible for passing on some pretty nasty diseases to humans. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that is spread primarily by cats. While it can affect anyone, it can cause major distress to people with weakened immune systems or pregnant women.

Rabies, cat scratch fever, campylobacter infection, salmonella, giardia and others are spread to humans by contact with cat faeces. For this reason contact with cat faeces should be stringently avoided, but this is very difficult to do if there are stray and domestic cats using your flowerbeds as a litter box.

As well as cats that have homes, we have stray cats. The average cat can have three litters a year (six in a litter is 18 more stray cats), each of those kittens will reach sexual maturity in five months. In one year, one pregnant stray cat can turn into approximately 150 cats. Allowing a for a 50 per cent mortality rate, you still have 75 more stray cats from every one stray female in town, half of that 75 are breeding females…. you do the math for the next five years.

It is estimated that there are over 50,000 stray feral cats in Edmonton alone and while we obviously do not have an issue with numbers that large, we do have a substantial problem in Ponoka. These animals have horrible existences suffering from starvation, freezing, predators and disease. They are not only killing our birds and squirrels, but upsetting the natural order of the food chain.

In my opinion, there needs to be an enforced leash law for cats in Ponoka and a cat by-law so that wild feral cats can be identified and appropriately dealt with and cat owners can be held responsible for their pets. We all need to stand up and let town council know that this is an issue on many levels and it needs to be taken seriously.

Sincerely,

Sharon MacPherson