Cats in Concord: If you like it, put a bell on it

The cats of Concord were purring last Thursday after town residents voted down a motion to tighten rules on prowling felines. The proposal, submitted by Lydia Lodynsky, a bird lover who had grown tired of the neighbors’ cats feasting on the bluebirds and cardinals in her yard, would have required cat owners to keep their pets under control.

It was the right outcome. In theory, it’s perfectly fair to expect pet owners to be responsible for their animals, especially when they venture onto someone else’s property. But it’s impractical when it comes to cats, who are hardly known for their obedience. Dogs can be trained to follow commands, but requiring cat owners to keep their pets under control would have effectively meant requiring them to be put on a leash or left inside.


Still, Lodynsky raised a valid concern that cat owners ought to take seriously. With the proposal voted down, a better solution going forward would be for people who want to let their cats out to put bells on their collars. A bell might not scare off every bird. But it would let the pets continue to roam, while ensuring that birds at least have fair warning.

A crackdown on cats isn’t what Concord needs, and if the town meeting revisits the issue they should consider less heavy-handed responses like requiring bells. But it needn’t come to that. Ideally, this is a problem that feuding neighbors should be able to work it out among themselves.

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