The City of Cranbrook is working on a draft policy for the licensing of cats. Corey Bullock photo.

Cranbrook councillor advocating for cat licensing

Here kitty, kitty.

Cranbrook city staff is preparing draft amendments for a bylaw that would require cat licensing

The issue, raised by Coun. Norma Blissett based on feedback she’s heard from the community about stray cats, came up during a council meeting earlier this month.

“I would like us to proceed to prepare an amendment to the animal control bylaw and to include licensing and regulation of cats within that, as well as the other applicable bylaws,” said Coun. Blissett.

Staff brought some information forward to council, particularly on the logistics of licensing for dogs and the impacts to city finances and operations for responding to calls of ‘dogs at large’ and other animal matters.

In the case of dogs, the licensing rate of dogs considered ‘at large’ is roughly 20 per cent, meaning the remaining 80 per cent are unlicensed.

Councillor Wes Graham brought up a bylaw example from Creston, noting it was one of the first municipalities in the province to incorporate cat licensing.

Graham served as an elected councillor in Creston when the cat licensing policy, an eight-section addition to an animal control bylaw, was created.

“It was a very simple licensing bylaw, and the whole reason was…what it does is really stops people from letting their cats go out and roam,” said Coun. Graham. “And that was one of the problems there, so now your cat’s got a tag so if its out roaming, the neighbour or someone can catch it.

“It really helps people become better cat owners and keeps your cat in your yard and your home.”

A draft bylaw is anticipated for council’s review by the end of summer or early fall, according to staff.

Mayor Lee Pratt, Councillor Wayne Price and Councillor Ron Popoff were opposed to the measure, mostly citing concerns around the potential burden it places on staff amid other projects.

“We’re two bylaw officers short right now, we’re having difficulty enforcing bylaws we have in place that I think have a higher priority or higher scale of protecting the public and minding the public interest than cats right now,” said Price.