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Why this small German town is putting every single cat into lockdown

The kitties of Walldorf are being locked up until August

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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After the past couple of years, needless to say we’ve all had enough of lockdowns. But house cats? Well, they had it easy. While we were all shuttered away, kitties went about their usual day-to-day. The lucky bastards.

But soon cats in a small German town are going to get a taste of what it’s like to be locked down. House cats in Walldorf, a picturesque town in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, are going to spend much of this summer trapped inside.

So why is Walldorf inflicting such misery on the town’s poor kitties? Well, the local authorities want to try and protect some local bird species from extinction. The cat lockdown is part of much wider conservation efforts, especially those concerning the crested lark – one of Germany’s most critically endangered bird species.

The crested lark is so vulnerable because it nests on the ground, which means that its eggs are particularly exposed to predators like house cats. In 2021, only six of the birds were recorded in Walldorf. The town’s other measures to protect the lark include pausing construction work and laying traps for magpies and foxes.

And it isn’t just this summer that the cats are being locked up. Walldorf residents are expected to keep their feline friends indoors from April to August for the next three years – or face a €500 (£425, $534) fine. And if a cat kills a crested lark, that fine could rise to a whopping €50,000 (£42,500, $53,400).

There are, of course, a few more nuances to the scheme than Walldorf just banning cats from leaving the house. The rule only applies to an area in the south of the town, where the crested lark commonly nests, and there are a few exceptions. If a cat can be proved to be harmless, it can be exempted. Plus, you can take your cat out on a leash, so long as it’s shorter than two metres.

So if you’re wandering around Walldorf over the next few months and see loads of poor house cats on leads, now you know why. But at least it’s all for a good cause, eh?

Did you see these five spectacular train journeys you should try on Germany’s €9 travel pass?

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