Last year, the city of Walldorf caused a nationwide stir with a strict rule: house cats were not allowed to leave their homes there for months. The campaign was intended to protect breeding birds. In particular, the crested lark population in Walldorf continues to decline: while there were five breeding pairs in the city in 2015, last year there were only two left at times.

Not untypical for Baden-Württemberg: crested larks were widespread there for a long time, in the 1980s there were around 670 territories there, in 2022 only 74 were counted. For Walldorf, further measures are therefore necessary to protect the animals – and one of these points is also to keep the threat from house cats as small as possible.

As early as 2022, the city had therefore imposed a “lockdown” or “house arrest” for the animals: Between May and August, you were only allowed to go out on a leash or on fenced-in premises. Anyone who violated this had to reckon with high penalties. In at least one case, the municipality actually imposed a fine of 500 euros after a cat had been repeatedly sighted outside the apartment. If the cat kills one of the crested larks, it would even cost 50,000 euros.

This year, the regulation is even more drastic: it now applies from April 1st instead of May. This period will continue to apply every year until 2025. It is unclear whether the curfew will really be enforced until the end of August: Last year, the city had ended the “house arrest” two weeks earlier.

The reactions to the measure are divided: while CDU District Administrator Stefan Dallinger sees the cat lockdown as an “effective instrument for preserving the bird species”, FDP politician Klaus Hoher spoke out against it last year: “The curfew for cats is more complete Madness.” For outdoor cats, it means “massive stress and immeasurable suffering” to be completely locked up overnight.

Sources: Stern, Focus Online, with dpa