Australian council may ban cats outside if they are not on leads

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Outdoors cats are skilled hunters, and are at risk of catching disease, getting into fights, or being killed by a car  (PA)
Outdoors cats are skilled hunters, and are at risk of catching disease, getting into fights, or being killed by a car (PA)

A council in Australia has voted in favour of plans to effectively ban domestic cats from being outdoors unless they are on a lead.

The planned “cat management” law change in the city of Fremantle, Western Australia, would see cats banned from all public areas such as roads, verges and bushlands.

Councillor Adin Lang, who tabled the proposals that received unanimous support this week, said that the new law would protect wildlife from being hunted by cats and to help prevent cats from being hit by vehicles and attacked by fellow felines.

He told Perth Now: “In the 1970s, dogs would roam our streets and I expect roaming cats will also become a thing of the past.”

Cats are already banned from 12 areas in Fremantle – which include parks, beaches and golf courses – and owners are liable to be fined around £100 for non-compliance.

Mr Lang said that the 750 cats registered with the city council have been banned from natural bushland but that more stringent measures are required because the pets are still roaming and entering.

He also said, speaking to Western Australia Today: “This is about protecting our wildlife and it’s also about helping to keep people's cats safe from cat fights or getting hit by cars.”

Tom Hatton, chairman of the WA Feral Cat Working Group, recently told the council that protecting urban wildlife and prolonging the good health and life of cats are “two good reasons” to keep them indoors.

He also said: “Urban cats kill 30 times more wildlife than adult cats out in the bush.

“A domestic cat that is kept at home lives on average 13 years, a domestic cat that is allowed to roam lives on average only three years because of misadventure, cars, fights and disease.”

Officials in Fremantle will draft a proposed amendment before launching a public consultation over the plans over at least six weeks.

There have been calls for councils elsewhere in Australia to implement similar laws.

Far North Queensland councils have been urged to follow the lead of the City of Greater Bendigo and other southern Queensland councils to introduce a cat curfew to protect animals.

Last week, councillors in Bendigo, Victoria, unanimously voted for the law that would mean some owners would have to keep their pets inside 24 hours a day.

A cat curfew was implemented in the Adelaide Hills district in July 2020, which banned cats from going outside between 8pm and 7am.

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