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Cat ‘Leash Law’ Causes Hissy Fit

Written by PETA | June 18, 2010

Some people in Barre, Vermont, are in a tizzy over a recently rediscovered (but never enforced) 1973 ordinance that bans residents from allowing their cats to roam unattended. I say that this 37-year-old law is smart, kind, and ahead of its time, because allowing cats to prowl the suburban jungle unattended isn’t doing them any favors. This cat, who was rescued by fieldworkers with PETA’s Community Animal Project, is a heartbreaking example of why:


This cat’s guardian allowed her to roam outdoors. She disappeared for several days, and when she came back her leg had been degloved and all the bones were exposed.


Every day, cats whose guardians see no harm in letting them roam are injured or killed by vehicles, shot by cruel neighbors who don’t want them using their gardens as litter boxes, poisoned, stolen to be used in experiments or as bait in dogfighting, and worse. Cats also instinctively terrorize, maim, and kill countless native birds and other wildlife who are already struggling to survive challenges such as habitat loss and who aren’t equipped to deal with such predators.

Protecting cats and wildlife doesn’t have to mean making Kitty a full-time housecat. Many cats quickly become comfortable with wearing a harness and enjoy leisurely leashed excursions around the yard with their guardians. And then there are “catios“—cat patios that clever and compassionate people build so that their feline friends can safely enjoy the great outdoors. Whatever we do, if we love our cats, we must never let them roam out of our sight.

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post

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  • Carrotstick says:

    ” Cats are almost as bad as the pythons in the Everglades yet no wants a ban on cats except me.” They’re not almost as bad, they are much worse. Burmese pythons are restricted to living in one part of one state (as they are tropical and die when it gets too cold, even in other parts of Florida), yet cats flourish in all parts of every state. And they are protected. Burmese pythons also only kill for food, unlike cats which kill for fun. I don’t think a ban on cats is necessary, but they should have to be confined on the owner’s property like every other pet. Python owners in Florida have agreed that since they can become invasive there, they should be microchipped so the owners can be fined if their pet ever gets loose.

  • StrayDogMoon says:

    Not to mention the guilt you feel if you hit one. I was driving down a road, going the speedlimit, and struck a little gray cat. I didn’t even see it, only the flash of gray as I hit it. I couldn’t stop crying. As a vegan, my goal is to save animals, and I had killed one. Keep your cats inside to help keep everyone guilt free.

  • Michael says:

    I live on a very busy road and sadly cats wondering around freely often get hit by cars. Today a cat was roaming a the street and my girlfriend saw it get hit by a car. Nobody stopped for it. My girlfriend saw that it was still alive and got him out of the road and laid him down on the grass. He was still alive but his face was badly injured. He probably could’ve been saved if the the town’s animal control department had more than one employee that worked later than 4pm to the police came and had to put the cat down. It was really an awful experience and I feel like it could’ve been avoided if people kept their cats SAFE in their own properties. Is there any way to see if your town does have a “leash law” for cats? If not is there a way to petition for one?

  • Mary J says:

    I have seen cats hunt and successfully catch prey in full daylight Anna. And Catherine it is not natural to let your nonnative cat hunt native creatures. If you think it’s normal for cats to be let outside to roam then how is it normal and right to keep them as pets when they arewild animals native to the middle east?

  • Anna says:

    Cats also instinctively terrorize maim and kill countless native birds and other wildlife who are already struggling to survive challenges such as habitat loss and who aren’t equipped to deal with such predators. ANNE COMMENT This is not necessarily true…because CATS ARE NOCTURNAL meaning they hunt at night and Birds ROOST at night this is the way Mother Nature made the plan so the Cats and Birds would be fine! Cats do not hunt during day…

  • Catherine says:

    I live near woods and miles of fields so it would be an awful shame to keep my cat indoors. Yes there is a singletrack road and yes one of my cats died after being run over. However I just can’t understand why anyone would say that this was my fault for letting my cat outdoors to hunt pests like rats and have fun when surely the only person at fault was the irresponsible driver who was driving far too fast for a country lane and couldn’t slow down in time. They are not the only person who speeds on the road perhaps it is speeding drivers who should be berated no pet owners who do the normal thing of letting their cats out.

  • Mary J says:

    Cats are the worst exotic invaders in America. Over a billion small mammals and birds are killed each year by these things. They are not a natural part of the food chain and they take the food that should belong to natives predators like owls and foxes. I love birds and have a constant fear of my neighbors “outdoors cat” killing the lovely birds in my yard and if I was to see it in my yard I would call animal control to come pick it up. Cats are almost as bad as the pythons in the Everglades yet no wants a ban on cats except me.

  • Mary Roberson says:

    I didn’t know it was the law but often wondered why it was okay for neighbor cats to come into my yard but I am required to keep my dogs behind a fence.

  • Ashley says:

    A few years ago we had a calico kitty named Ginger. She was about 6 months and we always kept her inside. One day she somehow got outside. She went to the parking lot and laid under a van. That van ended up pulling out and running her over. She had to be put down Another kitty we had was a pure black cat named Baby. We named her Baby because she was so tiny. She had just had her first litter and she kept trying to get out of the house. Once again our kitty ran into the parking lot…One of the neighbors told us she was dead and was thrown in the garbage. I was at school at the time but my brotherinlaw told me he jumped in the garbage bin and was tearing up ever bag to find her He didnt find her… Ive seen people speed up to try and hit animals on the road. Who would want to do that?? When people do it on purpose and dont even care…these people are sick in their heads and should be locked up. The best thing you can do is try your best to prevent it and keep your kitties inside.

  • MARCIA says:


  • Hailey says:

    Totally agree with having leash and enclosure laws for cat owners! I am a multicat home and would not dream of allowing my cats to wander around outside unless able to ensure safety! We are not supposed to allow our children up to a certain age or dogs to wander the streets unsupervised so why do some cat owners feel it’s okay to allow their cats to do so? It’s entirely ridiculous. Where is the responsibility in doing that? Are they going around to their neighbours property to clean up their cats poop? Ummm .. no likely not. Some cat people are extremely frustrating when it comes to this! We need to be responsible with our pets … keep them safe be respectful of our neighbours property etc…. For some reason people think that cats are on some other scale than dogs … one needs supervision and the other doesn’t?? Is one more valuable than the other? Lots of other cats to choose from so who cares what happens to this one … if it comes back great if it doesn’t … oh well never mind the fact that it very possibly is stuck lost or injured and either in pain or dying slowly or dead. Such a shame that this is what some cat owners are like. It’s either that or they are stupidly “shocked” or “worried” that their cat has not returned. As though there couldn’t possibly be any logical reason whyhow this would happen nor any way to have prevented it. Leash Enclosure laws for cat owners should be applied everywhere! I am sick and tired of trying to figure out whether a cat is just meandering about has been abandoned is lost or if that poor dead cat at the side of the road even had a family who cared. Smart’n up Cat Parents!

  • Jenn says:

    I agree with not letting animals go loose outside it is very scary to not know where they could be! Previous neighbors of mine had let their cat outside and was found a week later with its back broken and unable to walk on its hind legs! It still doesn’t have full function! You never know what sick people out there could do to your animal even by accidental vehicle hitting most people don’t care enough to stop and help the animal.

  • Sierra says:

    Awh the poor kitten is it okay? I have a 6 year old mother cat who just had four kittens and while she does live outside she will not leave our yard we have no neighbors close by except my brother who is a huge animal lover like myself

  • Alexandra says:

    this make me sick. its so sad.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    A few years ago a relative of ours did something really dumb and had to spend some time in jail so he asked us to look after his cat while he was there. When we got her to our home we attempted to put her in our yard for a moment while we got her litter box set up. She was unaccustomed to being outside and let us know she did not like it by yanking her feet up every time we tried to set her down on the grass. For the entire year that she was a guest in our home she preferred to be indoors only going out once or twice when the front door was open dashing madly back inside when she realized where she was.

  • Melinda says:

    My cat loves to sit by the patio door and “play”. He bats at the animals outside and watches them closely as if he could really hunt them. It’s so funny. I’m happy he’s an indoor cat. There are so many dangers in the outdoors for cats.

  • Jennifer says:

    I agree that building a play area is an excellent way to allow cats to have the best of both worlds without the dangers of living completely outdoors. Keep in mind that indoor cats are proven to be healthier and less likely to contract diseases and parasites such as toxoplasma gondiiwhich can spread to people.

  • a.k. says:

    The local reaction to this does not surprise me. Where my family lives in New Hampshire a lot of people who live in the woods still let their cats roam free at least part of the time. I strongly support leash laws or enclosure laws for felines if for no other reason than their own safety and health. When I was growing up none of our cats were allowed to go outside unattended. They were either on a leash which most of them adapted to readily enough or in a fenced inyard while under careful human supervision at all times so we could pull them off trees which they could figure out how to go UP but not DOWN and save chipmunks and birds from them. One of our cats STILL got out unattended once. She never liked to go outside she would creep up to the door and pawed to be let in if you let her out with you or cowered in her leash until you got the picture and took her back inside. Why she ran out the door when nobody was looking I’ll never understand. She came back with her tail badly mangled and over an inch of tail bone exposed. I was the one who found her and she was most closely bonded to me. My parents found me clutching her to me while I screamed and screamed that she needed help because she looked so shocked so hurt and I was so scared. It was awful. I had nightmares about it for months. She survived after careful treatment and a partial amputation of her tail. But it was a nearer thing than we liked. The vet told us if we hadn’t found her soon she would have gotten an infection that would have killed her. We don’t know what happen to her although I suspect it was dogs either our neighbor’s poorly attended ones who’d killed cats before or feral dogs. She was never afraid of big dogs before she was hurtshe grew up with them because we also had a Lab who was a puppy when she was a kittenbut ever since then she’s been terrified of them I dare anyone who claims animals don’t think have emotions or remember to see a pet go through something like that and then try and argue it’s “instinct only”. One my relatives told me that it was our fault my cat got hurt because if we “let her outside more” and “didn’t hover over her and spoil her” she would’ve been “woods smart.” Sadly this relative also thinks that cats only naturally live five or six years because she’s never had a cat live longer than that. The cat who survived the attack is sixteen now and the queen of my parent’s household most of our cats have lived into their late teens and one a rescue we got as an adult may have been in his early twenties when he died peacefully in his sleep. It may be the tradition of that area that “cats go outside” but it needs to change. More such laws need to be adopted and ENFORCED.

  • Ashley says:

    awww!!! so sad!!! i have 3 cats of my own and they are my family and i cant imajine what will happen if the same this happened as the picture.

  • Patty Stachura says:

    I totally agree with this subject. I have tried to convince cat owners that allowing their cats to roam outdoors unsupervised is unsafe. Cats only have minimal protection from dogs and other preditors while they are alone. They can also be run over by an automobile and left injured and helpless or even worse killed. Cat owners believe it’s natural for a cat to kill small prey and see nothing wrong with it. A cat being fed a proper diet does not need to eat animals. They can become ill eating diseased wildlife too. Cats should have safety collars with a bell so if they do escape outdoors small prey will hear it and be able to save themselves. Your cat can enjoy being outdoors on a harness and leash. It will take some practice but it will be worth the effort. Too many cats go missing because they are allowed outdoors. If you love your cat keep it safely indoors. All cats can adapt to litter boxes and will become content with watching wildlife indoors. I know this to be true because I have rescued many cats and they all are much happier in their new environment.

  • Chris says:

    Allowing a cat or dog to roam free ‘off of your property’ results in that animal getting hit by a car getting bit by another ‘protective animal’ gettig rabies getting tons of fleas not getting fresh water getting “heatstroke” or “frostbite” getting lost getting ‘run over’ getting ‘knockedup’. There is nothing healthier than ‘keeping’ your cat or dog permanently on “your property only” and “inside your house”!. If you want to make sure your cat or dog does’nt get bored then by them lots of toys “for your property only” and take them on rides when you drive to a relative’s house! So GROW UP get a brain!

  • Vicki Gowenlock says:

    I am all for this law. I think the reason some people have cats as pets is because they are less WORK than having a dog. They just let them out to roam at will. If you love your cat please keep them inside on a leash or in an inclosed outside pen.

  • lisa says:

    Lets just hope that law never comes to the UK i dont think i could imagine myself walking down the street taking my 10 cats for a walk think id look really silly lol.

  • Michelle Green says:

    Keeping your kitty indoors is much kinder. Their lives are longer and they are healthier. You don’t have the flea and tick problems. And you always know where your cat is. They won’t get eaten by coyotes run over by cars or have these kinds of injuries.

  • Aleksis says:

    Oh no that poor baby!!! I wonder what happened to him ….My kitty has a ‘Catio’..there is bamboo covering the railings so he can’t fall he even goes out there when it’s snowing! lol

  • Toby says:

    Thanks for raising this issue ‘naturalinstinctive’ doesn’t mean ‘good’… in an ideal world there would be no suffering only wellbeing. There is a ridiculous argument that goes ‘we are supposed to do x because we evolved doing x’ or even more ridiculous ‘we are supposed to do x because Gods made us to do it’… morality works by preventing suffering promoting wellbeing though not ‘acting natural’ and moral is the best way to be objectively AND subjectively!