Ever notice those signs in parks around Evanston that read “No dogs or cats unless on leash”?

Yes, friends, our city fathers back in 1980 figured you could get your typical cat to walk on a leash.

Or they figured unleashed cats could read and would stay out of parks on their own.

Or they figured dogs and cats are alike and it would be discriminatory to treat them differently.

Or they saw city parks overrun by unleashed cats and felt they had to do something.

Or the animal wardens didn’t have enough to do and could be counted on to chase unleashed cats out of parks.

And in 2008 the aldermen amended this section of the city code and left the ban on unleashed cats in place.

What do you think?

Here’s the law

9-4-7 (D) It shall be unlawful for any dog or cat, unless on leash, to go or be upon any public playground or public park within the City or upon a path or sidewalk through or within any public park or playground within the City.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Why are cats allowed to roam free when dogs are not?

    Though cats may not be a significant danger for the public at large, they are still a nuisance when allowed to roam free.  I have cats, and for their own safety, keep them inside at all times.  Aside from the obvious risks to the pet when left unattended outside, it is irresponsible and unfair to the neighborhood to allow pet cats to defecate in other people's yards, chase away or kill wildlife and get into loud turf wars with other cats in the middle of the night.  The double standard between dogs and cats should be eliminated.  All pet owners should have a legal obligation to control their pets when outside of their own property.

  2. Graffiti

    Interesting that they picked a sign with graffiti on it. Probably couldn't find without it.

  3. Please re-leash meow

    Okay, the People's Republic of Evanston can get dopey with a lot of things (there is a longer and more convoluted signs used in school yards). If I see a new sign including Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs, Hamsters and Ferrets (let's not discriminate against any pet, after all), then I'll agree that's nuts. I've seen a few people whose cats tag along with them when they walk the dog.

    But this one works as a reminder, if nothing else. First, you can walk a cat on a leash. Some cats like it, some don't. Second, the concept of cats running loose in an urban environment like Evanston is a throwback to the old barnyard days. If you let your cat outside with all the traffic, coyotes, skunks and other threats, you're just lining up to be the next person printing off a "lost cat" flyer for your neighborhood tree. They won't do much damage to the bird population or humans, but it's about as dumb as letting your toddler roam the neighborhood.

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