Feeding strays leads to ‘ownership’ under proposed Cornwall cat control bylaw

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A sweeping cat control bylaw could force those who feed stray cats to be automatically tagged as owners with all of the responsibilities attached.

That’s according to an interim report to Cornwall city council Monday night (May 14) on writing up a new law to control the city’s out-of-control feline population.

The Cat Control Bylaw is still being written but the idea is to give people up to five years from its passage to have their cat spayed or neutered. The other possibility is a two year grace period against registering your cat with the city in the hopes that people would use that money to sterilize their animal instead ($35 per year per cat).

Cats would also have to be kept indoors except when out on a leash, lead or in a pen.

But there’s also an attempt to stop “well intentioned by maligned individuals” by tagging them with ownership for feeding a stray cat and “accountability to register, vaccinate, spay/neuter and so on” would apply.

There are also proposed ownership limits – two cats in an apartment; four in a single family or semi-detached home.

Cornwall has been dealing with an explosion in the feline population over the past year with nearly a third of all Ontario cats brought into SPCA shelters coming to the SD&G branch. The local shelter was so overwhelmed, cats had to be transferred to other Ontario shelters.

The city doesn’t necessarily have a feral cat issue but rather people not taking responsibility for their pets and letting them wander at will. The SPCA estimates feral cats only account for 30 per cent of all roaming cats.

It’s estimated there are no less than 7,000 legitimately owned cats in Cornwall.