Should Cats Be Allowed to Roam?

by Debbie Sentes, Past President, PFA 

Every animal’s life has value, and each one is a unique, irreplaceable individual with needs and feelings, just like us! Responsible pet ownership means we should provide our animals with love, kindness, good quality pet food, shelter, sterilizations, vet care and safety. One major way we can keep our pets safe is by keeping them under control in our own yards, and not letting them roam. Cats not kept in check face many dangers such as being injured or killed by cars or other animals, freezing to death in winter, acts of cruelty, getting accidentally locked in sheds and garages, and consuming poisons. Keeping your pet indoors or restricted to your own yard can improve relationships with neighbors who don’t appreciate your animal soiling in their yard or causing other problems. Roaming cats also kill or maim birds and other animals such as squirrels. Additionally, unsterilized cats allowed to roam contribute to the serious pet over-population problem.

The City of Regina has a bylaw in place that stipulates that cats as well as dogs must be licensed and kept under control, and not allowed to roam freely outdoors. If your cat or dog is caught running at large, the fine can be between $100 and $300. Failure to purchase a license could result in an additional fine between $150 and $350. The license fee for an unsterilized cat is $100 per year which is reduced to $20 if the cat has been spayed or neutered or if it is a kitten under six months of age. The cost of a dog license for a non-sterilized dog is $100 a year which is reduced to $25 if your dog is sterilized or if it is a puppy under 6 months of age. Licenses can be purchased at City Hall, the Regina Humane Society or from veterinarians.

Keeping cats indoors is the safest option. If you prefer that your cat gets fresh air and sunshine, a cat run made from wire mesh and wood can be easily made. It should include a partial roof (can also be shingled) and a ledge for your cat to sit on. If your house has a small basement window facing the back yard, the run could be attached to the house and the cat could come in and out as it pleases. Sometimes it can be difficult to get the cat to come back inside, but if you do it before dusk and offer kitty some canned cat food or Temptation treats, there usually isn’t a problem getting them in. If the run is not attached to the house, a small door can be added.

If you would like to tie your cat out on a collar and rope in your back yard in good weather, your yard should be fenced in. Pet shops sell items that ropes can be tied to and stuck in the ground. The rope should never be long enough that the cat can reach a fence, a tree, or get tangled around any patio furniture. Cats can easily hang themselves and it could be a death sentence for the animal. Ensure collars are attached to the rope tightly to ensure the knots don’t come undone. It is also imperative that shade is provided at all times. Within minutes of being in direct sunshine (even if it’s not hot), a cat can start to heat up very quickly. Whatever choice you make, the cat should be supervised and never left out for long periods of time.