From Iceland — Banning Outdoor Cats Provoked Discussion

Banning Outdoor Cats Provoked Discussion

Published November 4, 2021

Reetta Huhta
Photo by
Christian Wright/Unsplash

As reported yesterday, the town council of Akureyri agreed to ban the free movement of cats in the municipality, starting from the beginning of January 2025. The agreement provoked a degree of debate in Akureyri, reports Vísir.

According to the four members of the town council who voted against the proposal, free movement should not be banned, but the by-laws should be renewed. Hilda Jana Gísladóttir, the member who submitted a protocol against the ban among other opponents, criticizes the majority of going straight for the ban without discussing the possibilities of revising the by-laws. “There was no attempt to reach a settlement which would please both parties,” she comments.

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Hilda Jana believes that compromise could have been reached by banning the free movement at night and during the birds’ breeding season. She thinks that at least the cats who have lived their whole lives as outdoor cats should be able to live like that for the rest of their lives.

According to another town representative, Andri Teitsson, the free movement debate has been ongoing for many years. “The main criticism against cats roaming around has been that they defecate in flowerbeds and attack birds during the breeding season,” he comments, adding that some people are also concerned about the diseases the cats might carry.

Andri states that in addition to the critique mentioned above, it has been difficult to get people to register their cats in the municipality despite the attempts to improve registrations. He says that approximately 200 cats are registered, but it is clear that there are up to two or three thousand cats living in the area.

However, the case is not set in stone, yet. The agreement must now be given to the Council of Environment and Infrastructure to go over, and then the health inspectorate reviews the matter. This means that something could change before the ban is set.

It is safe to say that the issue is quite flammable, not only in Akureyri but in other parts of the country as well. According to Hilda Jana, it is a matter that strongly divides opinions for and against it. “There are many people celebrating while others cry,” she says.

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