The City of Whittlesea is looking at how to best manage a growing cat population to support cat welfare and asking the community to share their thoughts.
You can join the conversation about whether cats should be confined to their property in the same way dogs are, whether mandatory desexing of newly registered cats is required and how we as a community can better manage our cat population at engage.whittlesea.vic.gov.au
Following consultation on the Domestic Animal Management Plan last year, Council resolved to continue the conversation about cats to better understand the community’s viewpoint.
Chair Administrator Lydia Wilson said Council was concerned about cat welfare and how we can create a more harmonious environment between pets, people, other animals and our environment.
“We value pets and the role they play in our community and we need to balance the wellbeing and management of pets with the needs of the whole community as a whole. In the last eight months we have had 671 complaints from the community about cats to Council,” she said.
Council is considering cat confinement and/or mandatory cat desexing to enhance the welfare and safety of cats. Cats that are not desexed and/or confined may lead to injuries by other cats and vehicles, unwanted kittens, nuisance complaints and maimed wildlife.
Cat confinements are not unusual. In Victoria approximately 39 councils out of 78 have some kind of cat curfew, and ten of those councils have a 24-hour cat curfew.
There are 7,207 registered cats in the City of Whittlesea; 96% of them are desexed.
Late last year Council adopted a new Domestic Animal Management Plan 2021-25 that outlines how Council will manage cats and dogs in the local community. The plan was informed by more than 3000 pieces of feedback and balances community and environmental needs. The plan aims to improve responsible pet ownership through a number of exciting initiatives including; an annual pet expo, a program within local schools, information pop-ups in the community, partnering with registered dog trainers to present demonstrations and conduct online webinars as well as joining forces with local vets to share information.
While the Domestic Animals Act 1994 requires that all dogs be confined to their owner’s property unless under effective control (i.e. on a leash) or in a designated off-leash area, it does not require the same confinement of cats.
Instead, it is up to individual councils to decide whether to introduce a Domestic Animals Order requiring cats to be confined to their owner’s property. Councils can also introduce an Order requiring dogs or cats to be desexed prior to accepting registration.
“During the consultation for the Domestic Animals Management Plan we received a great deal of feedback asking for action on roaming pet cats and stray cats because of the harm they cause to wildlife and the nuisance they create for neighbours,” Ms Wilson said.
“That’s why we’re continuing the conversation and I encourage you to have your say and complete the Cat Management Survey to let Council know your thoughts,” Ms Wilson said.
Visit engage.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/catmanagement to let us know your opinion and have your questions answered through our Frequently Asked Questions.