Cus­tody for cats breach­ing cur­few

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

More than 170 wan­der­ing cats and kit­tens have been “taken into cus­tody” by Baw Baw Shire this year.

But many oth­ers have been re­turned to own­ers with­out be­ing im­pounded.

As part of a re­vised Lo­cal Law adopted by coun­cil in 2016 a cat cur­few was in­tro­duced that re­quires the pets to be kept within their own­ers’ prop­er­ties at all times.

The Gazette has re­ceived com­plaints about the cur­few from sev­eral own­ers but has also heard from oth­ers con­cerned about the preva­lence of stray cats and prob­lems they can cause.

Plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment direc­tor Yas­min Woods said coun­cil had adopted an at­ti­tude of ed­u­cat­ing cat own­ers to “do the right thing by their pets and their neigh­bours” rather than a heavy-handed ap­proach.

Un­der the Lo­cal Law fines of $81 can be im­posed on own­ers that al­low their cats to roam but has been rarely used.

Own­ers of cats that can be iden­ti­fied, usu­ally through their mi­crochips, are con­tacted by the shire’s com­pli­ance team as part of the ed­u­ca­tion process.

Ms Woods said many of the cats im­pounded this year were not reg­is­tered and did not have any iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags but the shire worked to try to give them “a se­cond chance” through its pets adop­tion pro­gram.

She said com­plaints to the shire about roam­ing cats mainly re­lated to the nui­sance they cause, con­cern for wildlife and even the safety and well be­ing of the cats them­selves.

“The more time a cat spends at home the less risk there is of it be­ing in­jured or killed by ve­hi­cles, in­jur­ing or be­ing in­jured in fights, killing wildlife and, if not de­sexed, get­ting preg­nant”.

Wan­der­ing cats are also vul­ner­a­ble to con­tract­ing or spread­ing dis­eases such as cat ‘flu and fe­line AIDS, Ms Woods said.

Peo­ple can con­tain their cats by keep­ing them in­doors, in a cat en­clo­sure or by in­stalling cat proof fenc­ing.

Ms Woods said a cat kept safely at home can live four times longer than those that roam and pointed to coun­cil’s web­site and cus­tomer ser­vice cen­tres for in­for­ma­tion about re­spon­si­ble pet own­er­ship and how to con­fine cats.

Ac­cord­ing to the RSPCA’s web­site coun­cils in Vic­to­ria have power un­der the Do­mes­tic An­i­mals Act to make lo­cal laws pro­hibit­ing or reg­u­lat­ing cats in spec­i­fied ar­eas but a cur­few is not manda­tory.

How­ever, where there were cur­fews cats should be on a leash or in an en­closed area when not in­doors.

The RSPCA says there have not been any for­mal re­ports of the suc­cess or fail­ure of con­tain­ment reg­u­la­tions but added there have been some stud­ies in­di­cat­ing that cats kept in­doors or con­fined within en­clo­sures have more health and be­hav­iour prob­lems than freeroam­ing cats.

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