ACT Cat Plan requires cat containment and registration

Cat owners must contain and register their cats As part of a new plan, the ACT government released today designed to help cats live longer, healthier lives while better protecting native wildlife.

The ACT Cat Plan 2021-2031 is designed to promote responsible pet ownership and balance cat welfare with managing their impact on Canberra’s environment, said ACT Minister for Transport and Urban Services Chris Steel.

This is followed by a detailed consultation with cat owners, environmental groups and the wider community that was conducted on the draft plan.

“The actions outlined in the ACT Cat Plan will promote practices that will help keep cats safe from accidents and illness. They will also improve our ability to reunite lost cats with their families faster with new registration requirements, ”said Steel.

The ACT Plan Cat contains eight strategies that will be introduced gradually over the next 10 years. Priority measures include the introduction of the annual registration requirements for domestic cats from July 1, 2022.

New cat owners must pay a one-time fee when they first register a cat and then update their details annually at no additional charge. This reflects the annual registration practices recently introduced for dogs and harmonizes the approach for the main types of pets in Canberra. There is no fee for existing cat owners to register their current cat.

The plan also includes city-wide cat containment requirements for new cats acquired after July 1, 2022. Cats owned before that date will have grandfather policies exempting them from mandatory containment if their owners do not live in a suburb for cat containment. All of Canberra’s new suburbs will continue to be designated as cat containment areas in accordance with applicable guidelines.

“Outside the designated suburbs, cat containment applies only to new cats as we understand that existing cats and their owners may not be prepared or used to containment. The grandfathering approach provides the right balance and enables a fair and gradual transition, ”said Mr. Steel.

Michelle Robertson, CEO of RSPCA ACT, said the organization welcomes a coordinated approach to cat containment across the ACT.

“We look forward to working with the government to implement the plan to improve cat welfare and protect native wildlife. We also look forward to working with the community to improve responsible cat ownership and improve the welfare of cats and people, ”said Ms. Robertson.

The Conservation Council’s ACT region also welcomed the ACT government’s commitment to “finally implement cat containment across Canberra,” but expressed concern about the delayed start of operations.

“The decision to finally introduce Canberra-wide cat containment is a welcome one. For too many years we have known the devastation of cats from hunting native animals in Canberra’s precious wildlife sanctuaries,” said Helen Oakey, General Manager.

“Australia is facing a biodiversity crisis and cats have proven to be powerful predators and the main threat to small mammals, reptiles and bird species. Canberra’s wildlife is particularly vulnerable to the effects of cat hunting due to the proximity of urban areas to nature reserves.

“The Conservation Council welcomes the new ACT Cat Plan as a step in the right direction to promote responsible behavior towards cats for both the health and wellbeing of pet cats and the protection of wildlife.

“The government has adopted a ‘grandfather’ approach, which means that cats acquired after July 1, 2022 must be contained, and cats that are already owned do not.

“While this allows for a step-by-step approach, there are downsides including confusion in the community about which cats can be let out and which should be kept at home.

“Unfortunately, it also means that the effects of cats on native animals are likely to continue for more than a decade as already owned cats age. It would have been preferable to set a date by which all cats should be locked in Canberra, ”Ms. Oakey said.

She said it was very disappointing that the new measures won’t go into effect until July 1, 2022, allowing newly acquired cats to roam and hunt freely for over a year for more than a year.

Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said the plan would go a long way in reducing harmful hunting of Canberra’s native birds and animals.

“Having a cat locked in the home not only makes a happy and healthy cat, but is also good news for wildlife,” said Ms. Vassarotti.

“While cats are popular pets and valuable companions in many households in Canberra, they are also predators with natural hunting and hunting instincts.

“It is estimated that the wild Canberra cats hunt 61,000 native birds, 2,000 native mammals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6,000 native frogs each year.”

“The ACT government aims to minimize the impact of domestic cats on native wildlife by reducing the numbers of wild, non-possessed, and semi-possessed cats through more de-sexualization, improved domestic cat welfare and management, and better methods of lost cat identification and reunification with them their owners.

“The government looks forward to working with animal welfare and veterinary organizations and the wider community to implement the actions of the Cat Plan.”

Following today’s release of the plan, the ACT government will press ahead with the legislative changes needed to implement key aspects such as annual registration and advanced cat containment.

This also includes changes to allow cat suburban owners to keep their cat on a leash, which is currently prohibited.

“This plan has been carefully thought out and has been supported over several years with significant community input. It recognizes the importance of domestic cat welfare to their owners, while recognizing the responsibility we all share to protect Canberra’s native animals and the environment, “said Steel.

Visit the YourSay website to read the ACT Cat Plan 2021–31 and Community Consultation Report.

Fast facts

What is a cat registration?

Cats do not currently need to be registered in the ACT. This is changing under the ACT Cat Plan as all cats must be registered starting July 1, 2022.

Cat registration is an official database of microchipped cats and registered cats. This system will work similarly to the current dog registration system, with a one-time fee for new cats registered from July 1, 2022.

What is the cost of registering cats?

The ACT government is currently working on designing and implementing a cat registration scheme starting July 1, 2022. No registration fee is proposed for existing cats born or acquired before June 30, 2022. A small one-time fee is expected to be charged for new cats starting July 1, 2022. This is based on the dog registration fee, which is currently $ 57.55.

An annual update process at no additional cost will also be introduced.

Do I still have to microchip my cat?

Yes. Microchips are an effective way for shelters and veterinarians to identify lost cats and return them to their owners. Microchips are a safe process in which a silicon chip about the size of a grain of rice is implanted under the animal’s skin.

Microchips are still required and will be linked to the annual registration system to ensure that the information on the microchip is always up to date.

What is cat protection?

Cat protection means your cat stays in your home 24 hours a day. Legislative changes will be introduced before the enhanced cat containment goes into effect to allow humans to walk their cats on a leash or harness while the cat is locked in.

Is It Okay To Leave My Cat At Home All The Time?

Cats can live happily indoors, especially if they were raised to be indoor cats from a young age. For this reason, the plan has capitalized on the approach of only applying to new cats from July 1, 2022.

Why lock my cat up?

Containment of cats avoids risks and improves their wellbeing and safety. Trapped cats live longer and are less likely to suffer illness or injury from fighting other cats or dogs, being hit by cars, or other mishaps.

What are the penalties for my cat failing to comply?

After introducing mandatory cat ownership for new pet owners after July 1, 2022, the ACT government will take an educational approach to compliance. Domestic Animal Services will work with pet owners and the community to ensure everyone understands their commitments and can take the right steps to keep cats at bay when necessary.

This includes providing advice and warnings to all cats that are found by DAS rangers and returned to their owners. The sanctions will be introduced as part of upcoming legislation and are expected to reflect current fines for violating animal welfare laws. The maximum penalty for a cat containment violation is 10 penalty units or $ 1,600.

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