The city council of Akureyri, North Iceland has approved a motion to ban off-leash outdoor cats. The regulation will take effect in the year 2025, allowing cat owners some time to prepare for the change. Seven councillors voted in support of the ban while four voted against it. The decision has been controversial, with some arguing that city authorities should have tried implementing milder regulations before resorting to a full ban. Akureyri.net reported first.
The proposal was put forth by Independence Party councillor Eva Hrund Einarsdóttir. Three other councillors filed an entry opposing the decision, stating that “the municipality has done little to nothing to enforce the by-laws that are already in force” regarding outdoor cats and that it would have been possible to ban outdoor cats during the night or during the bird breeding season rather than instituting an overall ban. The entry also stated that it would have been better to create a sunset clause that allowed all current outdoor cats in Akureyri to live out the rest of their lives as such.
Ragnheiður Gunnarsdóttir has worked at Kisukot cat shelter in Akureyri for nearly a decade. She told RÚV she fears the ban will lead to pet owners abandoning cats that cannot adjust to only being indoors. Ragnheiður stated that city authorities have not addressed cat ownership at all during the past decade.
Regulations on cat ownership differ across Iceland. In Norðurþing municipality outdoor cats are banned, and owners are subject to a fine of ISK 5,000 ($38/€33) for a first offence. In Reykjavík, outdoor cats are permitted and are a relatively common sight. Several popular Facebook groups and pages exist where locals and visitors share photos of cats spotted on the street.