by Pete Talbot

Missoula cats

Cats bring out the same sort of passion that folks usually reserve for dogs and guns. Just witness the traffic on the unofficial Missoula municipal listserv.

If you’re not a subscriber of this very informative service, go here. And here’s the new ordinance language. (I’ve also copied some of the comments below the fold).

The gist of the ordinance is to cut down on the number of reproducing cats by encouraging spaying and neutering, and requiring a breeder’s license for folks who have more than five felines. This is a good idea and will, I hope, reduce the number of cats that have to be euthanized because they’ve been abandoned, or are feral or just out cruising.

The Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller tells us the ordinance is headed back to committee. While the cat ordinance may not generate the clever copy that the chicken ordinance did, I imagine we’re in for a number of stories on the subject over the next few weeks. There’s going to be some new language suggested for the dog ordinance, too.

Bankruptcy, Baucus and Rehberg

The 2005 Bankruptcy Bill was bad for consumers and a godsend for the banks. Fortunately, congress could be looking at some reform in that law.

Former Montana resident and current political columnist David Sirota writes about a new bankruptcy bill. It would start in the U.S. House, and it will be telling to hear Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg’s input, if any, on the bill. Denny actually had a couple decent votes at the end of the last congressional session (‘no’ on the bailout, for example), breaking a string of horrendous votes.

If it makes it through the House, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus will have a significant role as Finance Committee Chairman. He voted for the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill. Let’s hope he does better on a new bill.

And I’m betting that our other senator, Jon Tester (D), will do what’s best for consumers if a bill comes around. Congratulations, by the way, on your Appropriations Committee appointment, Jon.

(It should be noted that Rehberg is back to form. A recent roll call of his votes this session includes: a vote against women [wage discrimination – HR 12] and a vote for derailing bills [H Res 5]. Is it too soon to start looking for his 2010 opponent? I don’t think so.)


I didn’t realize what a hot ticket the inauguration is. It sounds like a helluva party. Hotels are booked solid and DC residents are renting out their spare rooms to the masses.

Montana’s governor and members of congress will all be riding horseback in the parade, along with members of the Crow Nation.

My ticket must have gotten lost in the mail so I’ll probably head down to the Elks Lodge instead, around 7 p.m. Here are some details.

Cat comments:

“I’m not sure why the ammendment proposes to change the definition of a bothersome cat from “nuisance” to “unnattended.” I looked up the dog ordinance, and bothersome DOGS are indeed referred to as “nuisance.” So why not cats? We should be consistent so as not to send a message that dogs can be bothersome, but cats cannot be.

I would also recommend one additional change to close a loophole in the cat ordinance:
In the definition of a nuisance/unattended cat, please strike the last 4 words of the sentence that requires a cat to be unaltered in order to fit the definition. If a cat is off it’s owner’s property, then it may be causing problems with its neighbors irrespective of its reproductive status.
Excessive cat breeding is indeed a problem, but it is only one problem caused by loose cats. Urination and defecation in private and community gardens, flower beds, compost piles, and under decks, as well as harassment of native wildlife and other pets also present problems. But as the ordinance is currently writen, a cat can legally do all these things as long as it is neutered or spayed. That seems odd (and also inconsistent with dog ordinance, which lists “defecation…” as one of the many activities that define a nuisance dog). Please send this back for reconsideration.”

“I think Derek has hit the nail on the head. My sister in law is a small animal vet north of Philly and in that area all pets are treated the same. Leash law and all, they make no difference. There is a responsibility to your neighbors as well as your pets. Take care of them and keep them under your control. Is it healthy or responsible for your cat to be attacked by dogs and other wild animals?

I have cats urinating all over my patio set, bbq, under my porch, under my shed and in my garage when they can get in. I finally started catching them in a live trap and taking them to the animal shelter. Keep the fines high for any loose animal.

How do you think we will ever get a handle on the feral cat problems we have. They are a prominent carrier of rabies. Any cat (or dog)caught should have the requirement of being altered prior to going back to the owner.

Believe it or not I am an animal lover. That is why when I owned a pet I kept under my control at all times!”

“Cats are not dogs. That being said…and being a cat owner who’s cat was shot in the eye a year ago from one of our ‘neighbors’ at point blank range, in an effort to kill the cat—even though our cat had a collar on with our info for contact…

Here’s my point…cats do not recognize fences and yard lines like dogs and are indeed, more commonly, wilder—as part of their genetic coding—than dogs—a different species and must be recognized as such—unless they happen to be fully domesticated inside cats.

Not all domestics can be treated the same (dogs and cats; horses and llamas; chickens and parakeets). To legislate that a cat must behave ‘like a dog’ and not ever wander beyond its property takes the basis of its true nature out of the animal, which I consider unfair to the animal. This is not to say your interests to keep your freshly dug garden beds cat poop free is not an issue—it is, but within constraints of accepting pets as a part of society and doing what we can to support the genetic, true nature of many cats while respecting your rights as a property owner without cats.

What we’ve done is ‘talk to our neighbors’, and given them our cat’s picture and our contact number so if she causes problems, they come to us, not take out their anger, etc., on an animal just filling its nature.

I believe the language you suggest changing should not be altered. We still must behave as citizens and be responsible, not expect to alter an animal’s genetic codes because we want it so.”

“And to take that view a step further. Give me a break. Cats don’t bite people, and, while cat’s in the flower bed are a pain in the butt, it’s dogs, not cats, that defile every available bit of green space with poop, which I then step into and track around. Cats kill songbirds. It’s a problem. But dogs? Dogs are exponentially more complicated in a community than cats. The two can’t be treated the same.

And a Happy New Year to you all. Thanks, Bob, for this excellent service. Keep pushing for more bike lanes, Phil. And wow, Jim, whoever shot your cat is a psycho.”
“And I married a man who is very allergic to my cat, so the cat cannot come in the house. She is spayed and belled, has a warm nest and food in the garage, and is endlessly seeking affection from the passersby on the sidewalk. She is emphatically not ‘feral’ and resents being compared to a dog.”
“Hear, hear, Derek. Why can cats wander into my yard when dogs are prevented? How much more cat poop do I have to run over with my lawn mower?”
“My, we haven’t seen discussion like this for a while!

Our cat Bela roamed the neighborhood and introduced us to many nice people over his 13 years. When he died last summer of an apparent heart attack, we received a stack of cards and beautiful letters from his many friends, most of whom we do not know. Clearly, the neighborhood was the richer for his presence. Several years ago, we considered moving to a development in another city that mandated that all cats must live indoors at all times. We chose not to for many reasons, but one of them was that we couldn’t think of keeping him inside and depriving him of his friends.
The ordinance is fine as is. “

  1. Cats might be more controversial than snow removal (did I just say snow removal?!), Pete. Just warnin’ ya.

  2. petetalbot

    Thanks, jhwygirl. I’ll consider myself warned.

    I bet your marijuana post gets some traffic, too. It’s always interesting to see what fires people up.

  3. JC

    If you think cats can raise a controversy in Missoula, you should see “Speaker Pelosi Presents Capitol Cat Cam” on the new House YouTube channel. Now this is going to raise some controversy!

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