Growing concerns of the number of stray cats in Kinuso and other hamlets in Big Lakes County has led council to beef up controls of the felines.
At its regular meeting May 10, council gave first reading to amend its animal-control bylaw to add regulations to control cats.
Council directed administration to provide options of levels of service to regulate cats.
Regulations for felines came after more concerns of stray and feral cats in Kinuso were reported, Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services, told council.
Administration recommended cat owners get a licence.
Kinuso Councillor Roberta Hunt says cat owners need to be more responsible.
“In order for them to take care of their cats, we have to have a bylaw,” said Hunt, who has received many calls about concerns of cats.
“This is a situation that’s been in the hamlet for 12 months.”
She noted the Alberta SPCA says its won’t deal with cats in a community that doesn’t have a cat bylaw.
Reeve Robert Nygaard said the problem of cats has also spread to his ward of Faust.
“I have heard lots of people in Faust are also concerned about cats and wonder why we don’t have a bylaw,” Nygaard said.
“I’m concerned when cats will gang up on a child.”
Hawken presented an official report of a cat concern in Kinuso dated April 20. The report indicated the writer found and removed a dead cat that was run over by a vehicle on Main St. on the evening of April 19.
Space on the official form allows people to describe a desired outcome.
The writer stated, “Tto create a bylaw for cats so people are allowed to have only so many cats. . .more animal control officers”.
Hawken also noted other concerns about cats. He received a telephone call from another person who reported cats fighting in the community, getting run over by vehicles, digging underneath buildings and breeding out of control.
When a person went into a shed of a local business last spring, the person found the shed filled with cat feces and the smell of urine.
“So they assume, cats were living there during the winter,” Hawken said.
The animal control officer also received other phone calls about cats in the hamlets of Kinuso, Faust and Enilda.
Several councillors support a cat bylaw.
Joussard Councillor Richard Mifflin agreed with regulations.
“We do need a cat bylaw.”
North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk agreed.
“We’ve got to do something,” Zabolotniuk said.
“Maybe we have to start charging for licensing.”
He added responsible cat owners will pay for a licence.
High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Tyler Airth and Grouard Councillor Jeff Chalifoux said the biggest problem seems to be feral cats.
However, South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart opposes a cat bylaw.
“Cats are cats, you’re never going to get rid of cats.”
She’s more concerned about the cost.
“It’s going to cost the county,” Stewart said.
“I don’t want my taxes going to cats.”
To increase regulations, Hawken estimates it will cost about $7,500 in the first year to add services and equipment, and $2,250 annually after.
The biggest cost the first year would be $3,000-$5,000 to add housing for cats at the county’s animal control facility in High Prairie, Hawken said.
He noted that licensing cats would have some benefits.
Cat licenses would:
-Provide proof of ownership when issuing warnings or fines for bylaw infractions.
-Increase probability of returning captured cats to their owners.
In case of a natural disaster, the County will have records on the number of animals in hamlets and will allocate appropriate resources for emergency management.
May 22, 2023