Cats forced to stay at home 24 hours a day or owners face fine in city’s new law

Cat litter: Pets at Home give advice on training cats

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Knox City Council in eastern Melbourne will make it illegal for cats to leave their property under any circumstances. Instead, they must be confined to a house, shed, garage or enclosure. Cats will be allowed to go into a yard on the property, but there must be a cat-proof fence to stop them escaping.

The rules will be enforced from October 2021 and there will be a six month transition phase in which owners will receive a warning if a cat is found outside the property.

After that, if a cat is caught outside a first time their owner will face a £50 ($91) fine and up to £296 ($545) for multiple breaches of the rules.

Knox City Council will also be doing random door knocks on properties to see whether pets are registered. Any pet that isn’t in the system will result in a £180 ($330) fine.

Dr Jim Radord, Ecologist at La Trobe University in Melbourne, said the cat ban will protect wildlife including possums, birds, bats and reptiles.

He said: “Cat containment at all times is just another element of responsible pet ownership.”

Last year, research from the National Environmental Science Program found that pet cats kill an average of 110 native animals every year in Australia. Including 40 reptiles, 38 birds and 32 mammals.

Dr Sarah Legge, lead author of the study, told Guardian Australia: “If we want native wildlife in our towns and cities – rather than introduced rodents and birds – then there are choices to be made. All we need to do is keep pet cats contained.”

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Local cat owner, Charlotte Jensen, does not support the new law. She told 7NEWS: “Either we would have to build another fence to section [the yard] off or we would have to cover the whole backyard, which would be expensive.

“It’s just not fair on them. It’s like putting a tiger in the zoo. It’s just too small and they don’t have that freedom.”

Advice from the RSPCA says: “It can be particularly hard for cats to cope with living indoors if they have lots of energy, love to explore and have previously been allowed time outdoors.

“Cats with outdoor access benefit from more opportunities to exhibit natural behaviours like climbing, exploring, roaming their territory and communicating with other cats in the area.

“Keeping your cat as a house cat will help keep them away from busy roads, but some indoor environments can become predictable and boring, leading to stress, inactivity and obesity.”

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