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Cats No Longer Allowed to Be Outdoors and “Free Roaming” in Edmonds, Washington

The Edmonds City Council has voted 6-1 to add cats in the "Running-at-large” ordinance already on the books. The law is aimed at preventing animals from freely roaming in the city, according to King5 News.

This decision to include felines followed testimony from numerous residents in regard to the nuisance and dangers posed by outdoor cats--ranging from the diseases they can carry and transmit, to the birds and other wildlife they kill, and the fur, fleas and other parasites they leave after lounging uninvited on outdoor furniture in neighbors’ yards, My Edmonds News reports.

By this vote, the Council reversed the decision it had made last year to exclude cats from the ordinance. That decision was highly criticized and received objections from nearly everyone who testified at the public hearing held on the matter.

Among the points made in opposition to “free-roaming” cats were:

-- BIRD AND WILDLIFE IMPACTS: A speaker noted that house cats and feral (wild) cats combined contribute to the death of an estimated 434 million to 1.1 billion U.S. birds every year.

-- DANGERS TO THEMSELVES: A few speakers spoke to the increased risks that cats face when allowed outdoors; such as, being hit by a vehicle, killed by another animal or poisoned.

-- HEALTH ISSUES: One speaker testified he has to clean disease-carrying cat waste out of his vegetable garden daily. And another cited the connection between toxoplasmosis found in cat droppings and mental health problems.

Dr. Rick Gerhold at the Center for Wildlife Health at the University of Tennessee, states in a 2011 article entitled, Cats as Carriers of Disease, that toxoplasmosis has been associated with increased risk of schizophrenia, autism disorders, other neuro-inflammatory diseases and can occasionally cause eye damage.

“The parasite thrives and reproduces in the intestines of cats and can cause neurological impairment that lead to abortions and birth defects in humans and is a major cause of systemic infection and death for immune-suppressed patients,” he writes.

Under the revised ordinance, it will now be a civil violation for cat owners to allow their animals “to run at large during any hours of the day or night” with fourth and subsequent violations being misdemeanor offenses. In addition, animal control officers may seize and impound any animal found roaming free, according to My Edmonds News.

Reid Larson states in a comment that the Council did not strike Sec. 5.05.010C, which allows cats to be outside on a “leash, cord or chain no longer than eight feet.”

Sources: King 5, OV, (2), My Edmonds News


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