Nanaimo City Council passes controversial bylaw for wandering cats

Picture of a brown and white cat standing on the doorstep of a house.
Nanaimo city council passed a new Animal Responsibility Bylaw restricts cats from wandering onto private property or being in public without an owner having direct control over the animal. Photo: Jesse Woodward / CHLY 101.7FM.
Mick Sweetman - CHLY - NanaimoBC | 02-02-2021

Your cat may not be coming back the next day.

Nanaimo City Council has passed a controversial animal bylaw that could see outdoor cats scooped up and sent to the pound.

When the bylaw was first proposed in November, it generated what Mayor Leonard Krog called a "voluminous" response from residents.

Under the new Animal Responsibility bylaw, owners must prevent their pets from wandering onto any private property without permission, or being in public without the owner having direct control over the animal

Councillor Erin Hemmens says the city needs a bylaw as sometimes conflicts between neighbours can't be resolved.

“This is not about leashing cats, this is not about keeping cats inside, this is setting up mechanisms and structures in order to support animal health for animals that either don't have a home or are creating a nuisance and that nuisance isn't resolvable between neighbours.”

Cats must now have identification, such as a collar or microchip, and be sterilized.

Having a cat without ID could cost you from 25 to 75 dollars, while fines for an unsterilized cat range from 100 to 150 dollars.

The city is waiving seizure and impound fees for cats caught outdoors until the end of 2022, provided you retrieve your cat within 24 hours.

Councillor Ian Thorpe says the bylaw is reasonable and based on best practices from other communities.

“It's not a case of the city wanting to go out there patrolling to chase down their cats. This bylaw is complaint driven so that if a problem situation does arise we have the tools that our bylaw officers can work with to hopefully deal with it.”

The bylaw also limits people to a maximum of four dogs or five cats on a property.