The new laws, praised by the RSPCA, will go into effect October 1st. Photo by Chéng Gao Gen Zé / EyeEm, via Getty Images.
Australian cat owners have expressed outrage over new laws requiring them to keep their pets on the property at all times.
Starting October 1st, all domestic cats living on Knox City Council – a local government area about 15 kilometers east of Melbourne’s central business district – will be subject to a “24-hour cat curfew.” move freely outside the house, shed, garage, yard or some kind of enclosure.
The curfew is meant to protect both cats and local wildlife and, according to the council’s website and a statement from Mayor Lisa Cooper, prevent cat harassment to neighbors.
“Similar to the rules for dogs and other pets, cats are not allowed to roam freely on their owners’ property,” said Cooper. “When cats are allowed to run around freely, they are at a much higher risk of illness and injury. Keeping cats on their owners’ property also protects wildlife and prevents them from bothering neighbors and their pets. “
According to media reports, residents who let their cats roam are only warned in the first six months after the law comes into force. They will then be fined A $ 91 ($ 68) for a first offense and up to A $ 545 ($ 407) for additional offenses.
The harsh new laws follow a curfew last year that required cats to be locked in between sunset and sunrise. Community feedback showed that more than 86 percent of respondents supported this curfew, the council claims, and that a 24-hour curfew was preferred to a night curfew. Almost half of the more than 720 respondents are cat owners, it said.
But the announcement has drawn the ire of thousands of cat owners both locally and abroad as a petition continues to collect signatures calling for a review of the proposed curfew and at least a phasing out of its implementation.
“The Knox Council needs to be more considerate of the welfare and fundamental rights of older cats who will be affected by the 24 Hours [sic] The ban on cats will go into effect October 1, 2021, and it will tear away from them the basic freedoms they have become accustomed to, ”reads the petition started by Andrew Dixon. “Just pass the law for newly registered kittens and their owners who are forward-looking and can plan the necessary infrastructure to keep the kitten they ‘selected’ under the new rules, and the older cats and their owners in Leave alone.”
“They are literally trying to make us herd cats,” the petition says. “This is a popular expression for good reason.”
At the time of writing, this petition was only 150 signatures below the target of 2,500. VICE World News spoke to several local cat owners with similar concerns to Dixon.
“I’m not happy about it. How can you keep your cat locked up 24/7 if it’s not part of their normal routine that they have known for years? ”Said Trish Zeenni, who owns a 7 year old cat. “I firmly believe that it will change my cat’s personality and its health will suffer. Not to mention the security of your home. How do you set your house alarm if you have to leave the cat inside? “
Joanne Hallworth, of Bayswater North, called the 24-hour curfew “unfair and unrealistic” and said she couldn’t afford to pay for an enclosure or a system on the fence to keep her cat under control.
“Cats instinctively wander around and have been for eons,” she told VICE World News. “When it comes to killing wildlife, apparently cats help keep rodent populations down, which helps us humans. I don’t know of any detailed information about its impact on native wildlife numbers, but is that the life cycle? Predator vs. [sic] Booty, and it has been like that since the beginning of time.
Others, including Dr. Gabrielle Carter, veterinary behaviorist with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in Victoria, welcomed and approved the new laws. In a statement for VICE World News, Dr. Carter: “No matter what stage of life, with the right care and attention, cats can thrive if they are kept safe at home and if they’re not roaming around, the local wildlife is free to flourish too.”
“RSPCA Victoria defines responsible cat ownership as owners who take full responsibility for their cats’ welfare,” she added. “Not only will keeping your cat at home will protect local wildlife, the more time a cat spends at home, the more likely it is that it will be safe from injury and disease.
“Cats can live happy and healthy lives in the home as long as they have adequate opportunities to behave naturally and stay healthy and stimulated, both physically and mentally.”
There are currently about 7,000 registered cats living in the Knox City Council area, according to the council’s website.
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