Source: CBC (Extract)
Posted: June 12, 2023

Erin Crepeau likes to keep a nice garden. But then there are those darned cats.

“I used to have a vegetable garden,” said Crepeau outside her Kemptville, Ont., home on Saturday.

“But I have decided not to because all of the neighbourhood cats use it as a litter box. I would go to pull my carrots and I would pull out cat feces.”

A chicken-wire fence did no good.

“They just broke it down,” Crepeau said, while a cat watched from a patch of shade across the street.

Stories like Crepeau’s are what compelled her mother, Doreen O’Sullivan, one of five council members governing Kemptville and other communities within the Municipality of North Grenville, to call for change, or at least a discussion.

O’Sullivan wants the local animal control bylaw updated so that domestic cats found roaming outside could, like stray dogs, be seized and taken to the pound.

Her notice of motion is scheduled for the municipality’s next council meeting on Wednesday, but in order for any discussion to result, O’Sullivan needs another councillor to second it.

“One woman told me [a] cat climbed up and knocked off bird feeders and broke [them],” O’Sullivan said. “She did try to talk to the owner and didn’t get any satisfaction. This woman was happy to let her cat go out.”

As for how things would work beyond dropping cats off at the pound, O’Sullivan isn’t sure. She wants to hear staff’s thoughts on that and how other municipalities have tackled the issue, she said.

“I think people have the right to have their private property free from someone else’s cat,” O’Sullivan said. “The other issue is cats frequently kill birds.”

The felines’ own safety is another factor, she added.

Crepeau, who owns a cat she does not let outside, agreed.

“Yesterday, we were driving down Asa Street and we came the closest I’ve ever come to actually hitting a cat,” she said.

“I also had a neighbour who found half of a dead cat in her yard. And upon posting in [a] community bulletin board group, [they] found out it was a domestic cat that [did] roam free. And now those kids lost their cat.”

Not everyone would pay to reclaim pet, cat shelterer says

North Grenville residents Justin Smith and Lauren Evans were walking by Crepeau’s home Saturday. They’ve had their garden dug out too, and said they support O’Sullivan’s intentions.

They’re also cat owners, and they expressed reservations about taking cats to the pound.

“I wouldn’t want pets to be taken away from their owners without their owners knowing their whereabouts,” Evans said.

“If I had a cat that was allowed outside, I would be pretty devastated if my cat just disappeared one day and I didn’t know where it was.”

Mellissa Alepins, founder of a Cornwall, Ont., kitten rescue operation, said the logistics of cat monitoring need to be thought out and properly funded.

“Are you going to start ticketing [their owners]? Are [the cats] going to have to be microchipped so you can see whose cat it is? The only way to navigate this is to have a full program with funding,” Alepins said.

Some domestic cat owners will simply leave their pets at the pound rather than pay the ticket, she added.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people think cats are disposable … There are of course some good cat owners who still believe in letting their cats out, and they would do anything to keep them safe,” Alepins said.

“But they are putting them at risk by letting them outside.”