In late December 2014, ASNV asked Chairman Mary Hynes, newly-elected Chair of the Arlington County Board, to undertake a “Cats Safe Indoors” public education program. In early 2015, the county’s Joint Natural Resources Committee invited ASNV to make a presentation on March 2, 2015. The committee asked us to discuss the impact of cat predation on bird and small mammal populations, health risks for cats living outdoors and recent attempts in the Virginia legislature to legalize so-called “community cats programs.”
In our presentation and in a follow-up letter, we made the following suggestions:
- Place cats indoors materials in all shelters, libraries and nature centers. Encourage animal control officers to hand out "Cats, Birds, and You" brochures (available from ABC as a pdf or print)
- Hold joint programs with shelters and natural resource/parks managers explaining why cats should live indoors. Invite the American Bird Conservancy to participate. Hold some programs in locations such as Arlington’s Central Library
- Involve the Audubon at Home volunteers in gathering information about the impact of cats in the natural environment and enlist them in sharing the message through their work. (Arlington Master Naturalists include information about outdoor cats in their materials already.)
- Put programs/PSAs on county television, the county’s website and in county publications. These are readily available at the ABC website
- Prepare and support measures to support "cats safe indoors = bird friendly communities" in the Arlington County Board's fall legislative recommendations to the 2016 session of Virginia General Assembly.