FREE FLUFFY: Toronto politicians should focus on reversing the rot instead of cat leash law

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KAGAWONG, Ont. — What are Toronto councillors smoking down there — catnip?

Must be. Nothing else explains their plot to impose a leash law on city cats. Meanwhile, gridlock, street drugs, carjackings, TTC attacks, COVID, garbage, gunfire, construction chaos and random thuggery, not to mention a disappointing hockey team, plague the Big Smoke.

You’d think with all that mess, City Hall would be busier than a three-legged cat in a sandbox. You’d think they’d focus on actual problems.

But, no, those bozos want to leash Fluffy.

Are marauding felines such a crisis? Or is this a diversion from City Hall’s failures?

Tulip, for one, is aghast at the very thought of being chained like a common dog.

My Norwegian forest cat and I were back in Toronto for a few weeks recently.

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We drove by tents under the Gardiner and in neighbourhood parks. We saw junkies slumped against walls and signposts, with needles or crack pipes, around the “safe injection” site at Dundas Square.

We idled forever in traffic, paralyzed by orange cones, seemingly placed at random as a sick joke on drivers, or crowded out by sparsely travelled bike lanes. We bounced down iconic Yonge St., dodging potholes, asphalt moguls and panhandlers.

We were shocked by brazen attacks on TTC riders, and a rash of daylight carjackings.

We noted exactly zero (0) felonious felines. Not one cat biting a passerby or sniffing your crotch or frightening children. No earthshattering meows disturbing our sleep. No cat poop on the sidewalk or puddles in the elevator.

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Not a single kitty running amok on Toronto streets.

Yet, City Hall is hot on the case.

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This week, Toronto leaders voted to consider a bylaw change to declare “no owner of an animal other than a pigeon shall cause or permit the animal to be at large” in Toronto.

The proposal, which goes to full debate in two weeks, is Councillor Shelley Carroll’s. She frets that footloose cats endanger birds and rodents (oh, no, save the rats!) — and themselves.

Well, first, let us congratulate the pigeon lobby on winning an exemption to the leash law.

Second, I wonder if Councillor Carroll has ever tried to put a harness and leash on a cat.

Up here on Manitoulin Island, that’s akin to slapping a saddle on a moose. Not a swift idea, though highly entertaining.

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Third, I take issue with the claim cats are the biggest scourge of ecosystems. The charge was brought before councillors by activists including, naturally, former city councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who used to bicycle to City Hall every day, frightening countless birds and small mammals to and from Scarborough.

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Activists are not prone to understatement and these ones claimed Canadian cats kill 200 million birds a year. This means the nation’s 10 million cats — pet, stray and feral — must each take down 20 birds a year. Every Tom, Whiskers and FiFi.

Sure, some wild cats bag more than their limit. However, Tulip, for one, drags down the average. Her lifetime tally, even up here in the deep woods, is zero, though she once dropped a live deer mouse at my feet.

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I’ll bet the twin towers of Toronto City Hall and surrounding skyscrapers claim more birds than the stray cats of Nathan Phillips Square.

Anyway, most of us keep our cats indoors already, at least in the city, right?

It’s beside the point. The issue is priorities.

Toronto remains a great city — but its leaders are doing their level best to eff it up. The decay is really noticeable when you return after long absences. Toronto is getting to be a dirty and dangerous place.

Surely, politicians ought to stop pussyfooting around and devote every day to reversing the rot…

…and keep their paws off Fluffy.

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