Like many other residents of Penticton, gardening is one of my favourite pastimes. There is such pleasure in beginning with a tiny seed and nurturing the sprouts daily for weeks indoors until they are mature enough to be planted outside. How exciting is the day when they can be transplanted out into the garden.
However, knowing the cruel reality of outdoor conditions, after taking several hours to execute the necessary transplanting, I carefully use netting and landscape cloth to protect the tender seedlings. Despite these precautions, the neighbour’s cat took advantage of my absence the other day to hunt songbirds. To my dismay, the remains of a bird lay tattered on the torn landscape cloth, and stakes which supported the cloth and protected the plants were strewn throughout the beds, giving evidence of a battle. The feline won, but the carnage raised the question as to why residents who have cats have more rights than those with dogs or those who choose not to have pets.
My understanding was that city bylaws are written to protect the rights of property owners, yet Penticton currently has no bylaw to restrict free-roaming cats that cause destruction of personal property. Netting and cloth become expensive when every four-foot square garden patch needs to be enclosed and the cat destroys the cloth in one interaction with a bird.
Yet the true cost of free-roaming tabbies is not just the ruin of gardens, it is the needless death of the songbirds that regularly visit the Okanagan. For a city which prides itself on being the home of last weekend’s Meadowlark Festival, which focuses on educating the public to preserve this valley’s native plants and wildlife, it is beyond belief that the city has not passed a bylaw to protect these winged creatures that visit our community.
If cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and London have passed bylaws which clearly stipulate that owners of domesticated cats must ensure their cat does not enter onto private property other than that of the owner’s, surely Penticton, the proud host city of Meadowlark Festival will do the same.