Healthy, spayed, vaccinated
and about 6 years old

Dear Mayor and Council:

As the recent November 2018 municipal elections in the Province saw many new Mayoral and Council candidates elected, this email may be helpful in addressing possible issues which may arise in your community.

Our organization, Pacific Animal Foundation, is an all-volunteer animal rescue charity, registered with Ottawa, and in our 21st year of helping to provide animal welfare. Although our organization is based in North Vancouver, we have been active in many areas of the Province over the years assisting with situations mostly involving feral or stray cats.

Our major focus has been directed to feral cats and a Program called Trap/Neuter/Return (or “TNR”) and we have provided factual and practical information to BC Councils since 2009. Our “Open Letter to BC Mayors and Municipal Councils – 2012” as published in the Black Cat White Dog newspaper.  And further,  So, Why Should we Help Feral Cats  . . ?

We write today to provide information which may be of assistance to Council on several topics.

  1. Feral Cats – TNR

  2. Cat Licensing

  3. Cat Bylaws

1. Feral Cats and TNR

We are constantly encouraged by the increasing amount of positive feedback on Trap/Neuter/Return programs that are taking root in every City and Country around the world. TNR is effective AND humane.

Effective because healthy adult feral cats are sterilized so it stops the cycle of unwanted litters, and feral kittens, young enough to be socialized, are taken in for vet care and adoption to homes. Outdoor cats also help the community by being nature's best rodent catchers on the planet!  An added plus is that cities don't need to use pesticides, which hurt human health, to kill rodents.

Humane because healthy feral cats are not just rounded up by Animal Control agencies and killed because they can't get homes. The sterilized adult feral cats usually enjoy a better quality of life once returned to their home habitat because they are vaccinated as well. There is significant evidence that these 'now fixed' outdoor feral cats can, in fact, live fairly long and healthy lives. The game changer is being sterilized, which now mitigates a number of negative survival factors and improves their health – ie. no longer constantly reproducing, less aggression and fighting over territory and unfixed female cats.

See  City Ferals Green a City  and  LAPD enlists feral cats for Rat Patrol 

2. Cat Licensing

Cat licensing is not a new concept.  As far back as the early 1990's, the idea was receiving attention.  Several jurisdictions in the U.S. even enacted licensing programs against the advice of several prominent groups of animal organizations who cautioned against it.  A number of those jurisdictions have repealed their legislation citing various reasons for rescinding the law.

Councils should be aware that there are many negative aspects to cat licensing.  Three articles below explain the drawbacks to licensing legislation.

1.  Against Cat Licensing -   article by San Francisco SPCA

2.  Cat Licensing - A License to Kill

3. Why is CFA Opposed to Cat Licensing?

The City of Toronto has had constant problems trying to enact it. The cost of enforcement and low level of compliance should be noted.   The following is from an article in Yahoo News - Aug 2015 by Kelly Putter - "What Are Pet Licenses for and does your dog or cat really need one?" 

" The licensing of dogs and cats in Toronto has become a snarly stand-off between pet owners who refuse to pay licensing fees and the city that continues to push the bylaw on them.
For years, the city has worked hard at promoting pet licensing with public awareness campaigns, graduated licensing fees, a mobile licensing truck and loyalty programs but compliance is
dismally low.  According to the Toronto Animal Services (TAS) website, estimates show that just 30 per cent of dogs and 10 per cent of cats in Toronto are licensed.  That means in
Toronto last year an estimated 128,205 cats and 127,377 dogs illegally roamed the city street, alleys and parks as unlicensed pets.  Although 80,000 pet licenses were issued last year,
the city is aiming its sights higher this year and hoping for 100,000 pet licenses

If the major aim of cat licensing is to reunite lost pets with owners, then likely technology will be that answer.  Licensing may only work if the cat is actually found.  It can't track a lost cat but technology has moved forward at a tremendous pace and there are several pet tracking devices already available in the marketplace. From a municipal point of view, instead of licensing, it may be best to encourage pet owners to either microchip or tattoo their animal to increase the return of lost pets.  See the following:

Paw Track

Cat Locator

Cat licensing is counterproductive to the Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) program.  TNR must go forward as it's the ONLY effective way to reduce numbers of feral cats (humanely) and that is the main goal so that we can tackle the overpopulation.  The archaic "Trap and Kill" that animal control used for decades has not worked.  New cats just move into the now vacant jurisdiction and re-populate.   If licensing is enacted then people often stop doing TNR as they feel they might be on the hook for licensing of the cats they care for.  This stops the spaying and neutering of ferals.  

3.  Cat Bylaws

Mandatory legislation often has negative, unintended consequences for the humans and animals in our communities. For instance,  mandatory pet limit laws and indoor cat confinement laws can have unexpected outcomes.  "Many caregivers and rescue groups would have to respond to a pet limit law by refusing to offer the care they were otherwise capable of giving."**  This would result in an increase of animals confined to shelters and more animals killed.

Often cats are blamed for major wildlife predation when, in fact, many other species should be mentioned in studies.  For example - In their efforts to "manage" species, humans have upset the balance of nature on many occasions.  The removal of natural predators such as cougars, coyotes, bears and wolves on the Gulf Islands has resulted in out-of-control deer population numbers which has seriously impacted the songbird population there.

Soaring deer numbers hurting other species, UBC study finds


Travel Alert for Migratory Birds: Stop Over Sites in Decline

The Human Threat to Birds

If any jurisdiction in B.C. mandates indoor-only restrictions for cats, we will be dealing with a very large and uncontrolled infestation of rodents in our communities.

We hope that the information contained in this email is of help to your Council in making decisions for your community.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


Lana Simon, Director
Pacific Animal Foundation

Other PAF emails to Mayors and Councils are found at this link:   Feral Cats in Your Community - What to Do

** Compassion is the Way – by Nathan Winograd