In the south of Walldorf, a town in the Rhein-Neckar district in Baden-Württemberg, cats are not allowed to leave the house until the end of August – to protect breeding crested larks.

In the southern part of Walldorf in the Rhein-Neckar district, free-roaming cats are now being placed under house arrest. The decree applies immediately up to and including August 31 and will be repeated annually until 2025.

The reason given is that the crested lark has a breeding season in the region during this period – their population in Europe is very endangered. Outdoor cats are considered one of the biggest threats to birds.

Crested larks are on the Red List

The crested lark is a species of bird from the lark family – and is classified according to the current red lists in Baden-Württemberg and Germany in the highest endangerment category “Red List 1” – and is threatened with extinction.

Due to the rarity of the species, it has so far depended on the survival of each individual young bird, according to the decree. The problem: The bird species nests primarily on the ground, which is why free-roaming house cats can become a danger.

“House arrest” for free-roaming cats

Cat owners from the region who do not comply with the new regulation face a fine of 500 euros. The penalty is even higher if a cat kills a crested lark – the owner of the animal could face a fine of up to 50,000 euros.

According to the general decree, cat owners who do not want to deny their cat access can apply for an exception. In this case, GPS data must be used to prove that the cat in question is not in the affected area. Alternatively, cats are allowed outside if they are kept on a leash by their owners.

For animals that have been able to spend their whole lives in freedom, it will be a severe turning point when they suddenly no longer get regular outdoor access. Cat owners should therefore do everything they can to get their animals used to being deprived of their freedom. Climbing facilities, scratching boards, places by the window with a view, toys and of course a suitable toilet can help in the apartment.

It is also most important to show the animals understanding and patience, because they cannot do anything about the new situation. Cat owners should take a lot of time for their animals so that they don’t get bored.

Source: Rhine-Neckar district district office