Cat containment – love your cat and wildlife too

The Conservation Council ACT Region is calling on the ACT Government to make it law that cats are contained 24 hour a day across the whole of Canberra by 2025.

Cats are a popular pet in Canberra and a valuable companion animal in many households. They are also efficient predators. All cats, even those that are well fed, have natural hunting and chasing instincts. Local research reveals that roaming pet cats are killing a significant and diverse range of native wildlife, threatening our Bush Capital’s biodiversity.

While some suburbs have already been declared cat containment areas, meaning residents are legally required to contain their cat 24 hours a day or risk a fine, in many other suburbs, even near nature reserves, cats are allowed to roam.

An ACT community survey in 2011 showed that 91 per cent of  ACT residents recognised the benefits of keeping cats contained – cats that aren’t allowed to roam kill less wildlife, are less likely to be a nuisance to the community and less likely to be injured, lowering vet bills.

 

Write to Minister Chris Steel, MLA, asking the Government to implement Canberra-wide cat containment by 2025.

Community consultation in 2019 demonstrated that Canberran’s largely support containing cats because of the benefits for both wildlife and cat health and safety. The ACT Government is currently considering their policy response to that consultation, so we have a key opportunity right now to press for control of domestic cats.

Email steel@act.gov.au or post to Chris Steel, MLA, GPO Box 1020, Canberra ACT 2601.

Key points to make could include:

  • Cats, whether owned or feral, are prone to roaming and hunting both day and night.
  • Research estimates are that Canberra cats prey on 61,000 native birds, 2000 native mammals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6000 native frogs each year.
  • Approximately 75% of Canberra’s suburbs located within 1km of threatened fauna habitat (ACT Cat Plan)
  • Almost half of the cat-owning population allow their domestic cats to roam unsupervised in daylight (Draft ACT Cat Plan Listening Report).
  • Canberra could show leadership by being the first jurisdiction to have full cat containment.
  • RSPCA also supports the containment of cats because it helps protect cats from disease and injury.

Call on the Government to support:

  1. Canberra-wide cat containment by 2025
  2. Compulsory desexing and microchipping of cats
  3. Registration of cats to align with dog registration
  4. Extra funding to manage feral cat and unowned cat populations
  5. Listing feral cats as a threatening process under the ACT Nature Conservation Act
  6. Better management of cats on rural leaseholds.

Further information about the Government’s Draft Cat Plan and the Listening Report are available on the Your Say website. More cat containment resources are available here.

Why Cat Containment?

It is in your cat’s interest to be contained both day and night. Contained cats are more likely to live a longer and healthier life than those allowed to roam.

Roaming cats can be killed or injured through car accidents and fights with other animals. They can also contract fatal diseases such as feline AIDS or be more likely to require veterinary attention for fleas, ticks, worms, abscesses, cuts and other illnesses.

27 per cent of the ACT’s cat owners reported that their cat had come home injured at least once each year. Roaming cats were four times more likely to have suffered significant injury at least once in the previous year than cats that were contained.

Research undertaken in Canberra reveals that roaming pet cats kill a significant amount and diverse range of native wildlife. While cats are a popular pet in Canberra and a valuable companion animal in many households, they are also efficient predators. Even well-fed cats have natural hunting and chasing instincts.

 

Cat Facts for Canberra

 

  • There are an estimated 56,000 pet cats in Canberra.

  • Pet cats kill more than 67 species of prey, including native birds, reptiles and frogs, and killing an estimated  380,000 – 630,000 animals annually.

  • Pet cats actively hunt during the day and night.

  • Cats favour species like frogs, reptiles and birds that live on the ground. 

  • Some pet cats prefer to hunt a particular species until the local population is completely eradicated.

  • Pet cats can roam up to 1km from home.

  • 77 percent of Canberra suburbs are close to nature reserves which are important habitat for threatened species or species of concern, and are vulnerable to cats.

  • In 2008, 252 animals injured by cats were received by the RSPCA ACT, including 32 species of native bird, two species of bat, two species of lizard and the brushtail possum.

  • 82 percent of animals brought to the shelter because to injuries from cats were native to Canberra.

  • Cats can host Toxoplasmosis, a blood disease that causes sickness and death in some species of wildlife.

How can you keep your cat contained at home?

Indoor

Usually the cheapest and easiest option, your cat will be content if you provide enough space and different areas for toileting, sleeping, hiding and playing (such as scratch posts or climbing poles), and access to food and water. Your cat will also like access to outdoor views and smells with wire screens, so open windows and doors as long as your cat can’t escape. Cats also enjoy a sunny spot to bask in.

Indoors with an outdoor enclosure

By attaching an enclosure to your house which attaches to their indoor space via a window or cat flap, or building a free-standing enclosure, you can expand your cat’s environment and provide them with choice about where to spend their time.  A balcony or veranda which can be made escape-proof is also a great option. Remember that separate outdoor enclosures will need to have food, water, and play and resting areas, and be mindful of external threats from neighbouring dogs who may frighten your cat if they can constantly see into the enclosure.

Indoors with an outdoor space surrounded by an escape-proof fence

Escape-proof fencing on your yard provides the best of indoor and outdoor living for your cat whilst keeping them safe.  There are lots of options and products available to make your yard escape-proof from modifying your existing yard fencing to putting in a new solid fence or netting.