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Roaming cats could be kept at home 24 hours under new council policy

Roaming cats could be kept at home 24 hours under new council policy
Brendan Rees

Cat owners may have to keep their feline companions within the boundaries of their homes “at all times” under a proposed 24-hour containment policy being considered by the City of Melbourne.

The plan, set out in a motion by Councillor Dr Olivia Ball, could affect more than 4400 households across the municipality with owners who have one or more cats, half of which live in apartments.

According to Cr Dr Ball, the policy would ensure the safety and welfare of all cats.

“Containment benefits cats by protecting them from injury and disease caused by fighting between cats, from dog attacks, snake bite, poisoning, road accident trauma or other misadventure, and from getting lost or irretrievably separated,” she said.

Between 2020 and 2021 the council impounded 355 cats, a jump of 62 per cent between 2016 and 2017 when 219 cats were found wandering the streets.

Under the plan, Cr Dr Ball has requested the council to produce a report by March next year which could consider “requiring all domestic cats to be confined to the property of their owner at all times, with reasonable exceptions, under the Domestic Animals Act 1994” and prohibit cats from “environmentally sensitive areas”.

The motion was endorsed unanimously at the council’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting on October 3.

Cr Dr Ball said mandatory cat containment would be consistent with the council’s biodiversity emergency declaration and its Nature in the City strategy.

“Some Victorian councils have introduced night-time curfews for cats, allowing them to roam freely during the day. The proposal set out in the motion is not a curfew, but a policy of 24-hour containment to the owner’s property,” she said.

 

Pets die on roads during the day, just as they do at night; and cats kill wildlife in the daytime, just as they do at night.

 

Cr Dr Ball also outlined that Animal Welfare Victoria (AWV) recommended cat owners with a yard to build a cat enclosure or cat-proof fencing with balcony netting being an option for apartment-dwellers.

According to the AWV’s website, “Cats don’t need to roam. If their basic needs are met, cats enjoy longer and healthier lives when safely contained to the property”.

Knox City Council’s introduced a 24-hour containment policy in April last year with first offences attracted a $91 fine while later infringements incurred a $545 fine. •

 

Caption: Cats like Lulu would need to be kept inside for 24 hours a day under a new containment policy proposed by the City of Melbourne.

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