To help protect and enhance the welfare and safety of cats in our municipality and create a more harmonious environment between pets, people and other animals, a 24-hour cat curfew and mandatory cat desexing for newly registered cats will be introduced in the City of Whittlesea.
At the Council meeting on 18 July, Council endorsed the introduction of these two key actions identified in our Domestic Animal Management Plan 2021-2025, with both to come into effect from 1 August 2023, to allow Council and cat owners sufficient time to transition to the new arrangements.
Chair Administrator Lydia Wilson said that extensive community consultation, industry research and benchmarking of other local Councils over several months influenced the decision to tackle this animal welfare issue head on.
“During our conversation with the community on how to best manage cat welfare we heard from over 1800 people with more than 80% supporting some form of cat curfew and over 82% supporting mandatory cat desexing for newly registered cats. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to share their ideas,” Ms Wilson said.
“We heard that many were concerned with roaming pets and stray cats and the impact this has on wildlife and the environment and the nuisance this causes for neighbours. We also spoke to experts including vets, animal welfare and rescue groups and wildlife groups, whose valuable input helped to inform our decision.”
“We value pets and the role they play in our community and we need to balance the wellbeing and management of pets, strays and wildlife with the needs of the community as a whole.”
“We have a significant cat overpopulation problem and we need strong measures to tackle this issue. The sad reality is that more than 450 impounded cats are euthanised each year in the City of Whittlesea.”
The implementation of a 24-hour cat curfew and mandatory desexing will help effectively manage our rapidly growing cat population while supporting the welfare of cats and local wildlife.”
“This change also means that the requirements for both dog and cat owners are consistent, requiring their pets to be securely confined to their property or under effective control when outside the owner’s property, such as on a harness, cat backpack or pram.”
Ms Wilson noted that while cats needed to be confined to your property, it does not mean that cats must be kept indoors at all times.
“If you are able to cat proof your yard to avoid your cat leaving the property, cats can still spend time outdoors.”
Confining cats to your property makes for healthier cats by reducing the risk of common cat diseases, being hit by vehicles or getting into altercations with other animals.
We appreciate cats aren’t aware of municipal borders so we will be working with neighbouring Councils on how we can work co-operatively to operationalise this on our boundary areas.
Mandatory desexing of all newly registered cats will also come into effect from 1 August 2023. There are currently 7,832 registered cats in the City of Whittlesea; 95% of them are desexed.
“Council is offering a subsidised cat desexing program until June 2023. We will be applying for a grant from the State Government and considering funding options as part of our next budget to extend the program beyond this date,” Ms Wilson said.
“We understand this is a big change for many cat owners and we will provide support and information to help with the transition over the coming year, including educational information, videos and practical advice on preparing your pet and your property.”
For more information and assistance to help prepare for the change visit www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/cats