Council is considering introducing a 24-hour cat containment order, requiring all cats within the municipality to be confined to their owner’s property, unless the cat is appropriately restrained in a cat carrier or leashed.

This follows a significant amount of community consultation to gain vital feedback from our residents.

During consultation for the 2021-25 Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP), overwhelming feedback from an online survey indicated our priorities should be aimed at addressing cat nuisance issues such as confinement and overpopulation, and the promotion of cat desexing.

Following on from this work a community consultation was undertaken both in person and via a survey (including multilingual surveys) from Monday, 4 December 2023 to Wednesday, 31 January 2024 , to determine what local residents thought about the introduction of a cat curfew.

352 survey responses were received.

Those who engaged showed strong support for a cat curfew (82%). When comparing a 24-hour curfew versus a dusk to dawn curfew the division was a lot closer with 52% support for a 24-hour curfew in both urban and rural areas, compared to 32% for a partial (dusk to dawn) curfew. There was little support for separate curfews for urban and rural areas.

How will this order benefit out municipality?

The order will help to;

  • protect native wildlife
  • stop nuisance behaviours like spraying, fighting and property damage
  • reduce the feral cat population
  • protect cats from injury and illness

Cat containment means keeping a domestic cat within the owner’s property boundaries. According to the RSPCA, safe and reliable containment can be achieved by using an escape-proof contained outdoor area on the owner’s property e.g. via cat proof fencing or using netting or rigid wire to form a fully enclosed area or by keeping the cat contained indoors.

Why 24 hour cat containment

This model would have the biggest impact on both cat welfare and reducing the detrimental impacts cats have on wildlife.

This model would also be more effective at addressing cat nuisance issues (such as trespassing and noise from cat fights) as these issues occur around the clock and are not exclusive to night time.

The majority of survey respondents prefer a 24-hour curfew in both rural and urban areas.

A 24-hour containment order will allow Authorised Officer’s to undertake enforcement and compliance, regardless of when a stray cat is impounded. It is a clear and simple model for the community to follow and avoids ambiguity when Council is trying to resolve nuisance cat issues.

As experienced by other councils, a sunset to sunrise curfew is difficult to administer effectively as proving the time of day when cats are at large or captured in a cat trap is challenging, and two sets of rules for night and day often confuses the community.

This model would introduce the same responsibilities for dog and cat owners in relation to securely confining pets.

Impacts of roaming cats

Serious problems can happen if cats roam outdoors, particularly at night, around 80% of accidents involving cats happen at night. Roaming cats can:

  • get hit by cars
  • be injured in fights
  • catch fatal diseases (such as feline AIDS)
  • become lost.

Roaming cats can also kill native wildlife — even well fed cats hunt. Roaming cats can annoy neighbours by:

  • spraying
  • fighting
  • yowling
  • digging in gardens

Studies from the Biodiversity Council have found that each roaming, hunting pet cat kills 110 native animals per year on average and collectively roaming pet cats kill 546 million animals per year in Australia.