Peace officers in Lacombe are warning residents about the dangers of letting their cats roam free and are reminding people they can be fined for doing so.
Cats running at large run the risk of being impounded, getting into harmful chemicals, being attacked by other animals and getting hit by cars.
Peace Officer Wayne Lowe says with the winter weather approaching cats are looking for warmth and may find themselves at risk under the hood of your vehicle.
“It’s recommended that prior to entering your vehicle, tap on the hood of your car in case a cat has crawled in there. That way if they are in there they will take off. If you start your engine it may be too late and then they wind up getting caught in the belts or things like that.”
Lowe adds if you're missing your cat you can call Lacombe By-Law, Central Animal Services or the local veterinarian's office.
Cats not claimed within 72 hours of being found can be adopted out.
Central Alberta Animal Control Services says they’re seeing an increased number of cats in their care and are encouraging people to spay and neuter their pets.
Currently they have a total of 60 cats and kittens, with around 70 being taken in in the past two months.
Senior Animal Control Officer Rebekah Bauer says people need to be aware of the risk of letting an unfixed cat roam free.
“A female cat can go into a heat cycle any time an intact male is present. So you’re looking at two to three litters a year possible for the one life of a cat. A cat can also be able to reproduce, we’ve seen as early as four to five months. Basically it’s kittens having kittens.”
Bauer adds some owners do feel entitled to let their cats roam free but in doing so they also run the risk of bringing home diseases.
“We see numerous cats come in with things like feline leukemia that you don’t notice right away, it’s something in their blood. We also see things like FIP disease, ear mites, and lots of different types of worms. This is basically the result of the hard life of living on the streets and for those pet owners who bring the cats back into the house, they run the risk of bringing those diseases into their home.”
Trapping is also an issue and Bauer says there are many protocols and guidelines that must be followed when it comes to the live humane trapping of cats.
Lacombe is one of the five communities they service with cat bylaws and as a result people are allowed to trap if it’s on their property.
“They need to be reporting it to us when the traps are set, they have to follow our time guidelines and they have to make sure it’s a properly working live trap that will cause no harm at all to the animals. Things such as snares and poisonous bate are not allowed,” said Bauer.
Lowe says there are traps available in Lacombe, however they do not allow trapping in the winter.
“We are not allowed to give the live traps out if the temperature is below zero consistently. At this time of the year we do not allow any live trapping. Come spring we will allow live trapping to occur and at that point any cat that is live trapped is taken to our kennel and put on the webpage.”
Lowe adds when a person does trap they must provide food and water for the cat while it’s in their care and prior to turning them into the city.
For more information on Lacombe's cat bylaw, click below.