The Conservation Council ACT Region today welcomed new legislation to implement cat containment across Canberra as an important step forward in how we manage domestic animals and protect native wildlife.

Unfortunately, implementation measures that only apply to new cats from July 1st 2022 will mean that Canberra’s wildlife continues to face threats from roaming cats, until the current cat population reaches the end of its natural lifespan.

“This Bill is a welcome start to Canberra-wide cat containment and with its introduction we will hopefully see a big shift in awareness in the community about what it means to care for cats, and our wildlife,” said Helen Oakey, Executive Director.

“Australia is facing a biodiversity crisis, and cats – pets and feral – are powerful predators and a key threat to small mammals and reptiles, and bird species. Canberra’s wildlife is particularly susceptible to the impacts of cat predation due to the proximity of urban areas to nature reserves.

“The Government’s “grandfathering” approach, which means that cats acquired after July 1 2022 will be required to be contained, and already-owned cats will not, will mean that many cats will still, legally, be allowed to roam. But we hope that these new laws are accompanied by strong community education about the benefits of keeping cats safely within a home environment.

“Registration of all pet cats, also provided for in the Bill, will be crucial to ensure compliance and return lost cats to their owners.

“The Conservation Council urges the ACT Government to review the effectiveness of the new laws 12 months after commencement. This would be a good time to consider the benefits of setting a date by which already-owned cats should also be kept indoors.

“Many cat owners may be unaware of the impact that their pets have on native wildlife. Hopefully these new laws will help them find out more, so they can take steps to keep their cats at home where they are safer, and keep Canberra’s wildlife safe too,” said Ms Oakey.