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What's new, Pussycat!

Would you like to see a Cranbrook free from the roaming antics of felines? Are those darn cats digging in the garden again? Have you noticed something with big glowing almond-shaped pupils watching you through the window?

If these are the kinds of things that you are encountering, then you may be happy to know that there may be something in the works that would be exactly what you're looking for.

The East Kootenay SPCA is working on a system to manage Cranbrook's cat population, according to council agenda.

"On the matter of cat licensing, the Bylaw Services Manager advises that there is currently an extensive program preparing to launch which will deal with management of the cat population in the city," city staff notes in the section 8.1 of the council package. "The program is being facilitated through the local branch of the SPCA and more information will be forthcoming to Council in the near future."

Of course the cat licensing would likely not take the form of an all-out cat rein in, but the idea was suggested.

The comments were prompted by discussions two residents' during a recent Coffee with the Mayor meeting, and brought forward at the July 14 council meeting.

Linda Slusarenko and Philip Gladstone are two Cranbrook residents and cat owners who feel the city needs to do more to control the roaming cats in this town. They talked to the mayor about recommendations on cat licensing in the city.

"These people are very much cat lovers," Mayor Wayne Stetski said at the council meeting. "But they think there should be cat licensing in Cranbrook moving ahead."

The residents recommended adding an additional surcharge  on top of the license if your cat is allowed outdoors.

"Perhaps another $15 on top of your tag," Stetski said.

They also recommended that the Cranbrook vet clinics should be encouraged to volunteer once or twice a year to spay or neuter cats at no cost to owners.

Stetski said he asked the two residents whether they would be willing to go so far as to not allow cats outdoors in Cranbrook.

"It's interesting, they thought that eventually cats could be restricted to indoor/outdoor enclosures, or on a harness and a leash," he said.

Stetski noted that a number of years ago he tried to put his cat on a harness and leash and it didn't go so well.

While a full-on outdoor cat ban is unlikely in Cranbrook, as many see the are benefits of cats remaining outdoors, there is a precedent set by a city on the other side of the country.

Oakville, in Southern Ontario, put in a bylaw meant to rein in roaming cats. In 2011 the city changed its animal control bylaw making it a ticket-able offence to allow a cat to roam free, punishable by a fine of $105 and a $30 surcharge. The city is larger than Cranbrook, at over 180,000 people.

In Edmonton, all cats and dogs over six months have to have a valid pet licence and tags. In Calgary that is three months.

Both places also allow neighbours to trap a pet and bring it to an animal shelter.

While cats do sometimes kill birds, they can also cut down on the rodent population, such as mice, which can  carry disease.

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