HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut already licenses dogs, so what about cats? It admittedly sounds like a crazy idea until you begin to unpack it, according to state Rep. Kelly Luxenberg, D-Manchester.
At first glance, Luxenberg admits the suggestion that the state should license cats seems a little like a revenue grab. However, she outlines her reasons for the state to consider it.
She said there is a greater good. It’s a reminder to have your cat spayed or neutered and it would be helpful for cat owners if they lose their cat.
Luxenberg said she’s not a cat person and has never owned a cat, but she sees missing cat posters all the time and believes it would be helpful for cat owners looking to reunite with their feline friends.
And while the concept for House Bill 5874 was originated by one of Luxenberg’s constituents who was concerned about trespassing cats, the larger benefits of the idea are “not totally obscure,” Luxenberg added Tuesday.
Currently, dog licensing in Connecticut is $8 per spayed or neutered dog per year. Luxenberg is proposing the same for cats.
How much revenue could this generate?
According to a calculator on the American Veterinary Medical Association website, if there are 1,301,670 households in Connecticut then you would multiply that number by 0.638 to get an estimated population of 830,465 cats in the state. Taking that number and assuming the licensing fee for cats would be the same as dogs, then the idea could generate $6.6 million a year for the state.
The government already plays a role in managing the risk of human rabies infections transmitted from cats by requiring that cats be vaccinated. Pet owners who kennel their cats while they are away are generally required to produce proof of vaccination before dropping off their felines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more cats than dogs are reported rabid in the U.S. each year, and cats are often in close contact with both people and wild animals, including those that primarily spread rabies, like raccoons and bats.
The CDC also says that while public health officials saw a small decrease in the number of reported cases of rabid cats over the past few years, in 2014 over four times more rabid cats were reported than rabid dogs.
“Importantly, cat owners are less likely to visit a veterinarian’s office, where they can get their cat shots that can keep it safe from rabies,” the CDC says. “According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, only 55 percent of U.S. cat owners visited a veterinarian in 2011, a significant decrease compared with 64 percent in 2006. This is much less compared to dog owners (81 percent in 2011 and 83 percent in 2006).”
The bill, which has been referred to the Environment Committee, has yet to be discussed by the committee’s co-chairs. A decision on whether the bill may be raised for a public hearing is expected to take place in the future.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture said it doesn’t have a position on the legislation, but generally would “not recommend creating any new licensing programs at this time.”
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who owns a Jack Russell Terrier, was noncommittal about the concept Tuesday.
“If I ever have a cat I swear I’ll license it, but it’s not going to happen,” Malloy said.
What’s never going to happen? Malloy owning a cat.