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Letters: Richmond's cat bylaw won’t save the birds

Richmond News reader doesn't think any cat bylaw will stop birds being killed across the city
Richmond council wants to educate the public on keeping cats from killing birds, rather than changing bylaws.

The Editor,

Re: “Richmond pushes for education to stop cats from killing birds,” News, Jan. 21.

Last week, I read with some dismay about city council’s discussion regarding the banning of cats from the outdoors due to their impact on the bird population.

Firstly, I must tell you that I am both a devoted cat owner and an avid birder, so hopefully, can have a somewhat balanced approach to this divisive issue.

We have owned cats for over 30 years (seven cats in all) and I believe we have had precisely one bird fatality in all that time, despite allowing our cats outdoors.

Our cats stay very close to home and are well-fed, therefore eliminating the need to hunt for further meals. This is the case for the majority of domestic cats — I think you will find the problem lies with the feral cat population, as they have to hunt in order to survive. 

And no bylaw is going to have any impact whatsoever on their behaviour.  And besides, far more birds are killed every year by flying into reflective glass than are ever killed by domestic cats. 

Our cats are quite content to just watch the birds in our garden from their perch indoors — safe for everyone.

I must add here that we have done everything possible to try and keep our cats in our garden, going to considerable expense and trouble in an attempt to thwart their fence-vaulting abilities. 

This has involved nailing plastic-spiked netting all along the top of the fence and gate, but to no avail — they simply walked gingerly over it and were undeterred! 

We also tried to leash-train them as kittens, but that was a non-starter — they merely sat down and did nothing, or got bored very quickly and wanted to be released. No fun for either party. 

We even looked into building a “catio,” an outdoor area with a chicken wire enclosure over our back deck, but this was to involve some structural change to the outside wall and even more cost, and was impractical. 

Once you have introduced cats to the outdoors, it’s impossible to then confine them indoors for the rest of their lives — they would become agitated and destructive in very short order (and their owners wouldn’t fare so well, either!).

I am very relieved to see that city council voted down this proposal, and do hope that if the issue is ever raised again, that all parties concerned will be considered.

Carlie Holland


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