COCKBURN’S cats would be restricted to walks on leashes by the year 2025 under a plan which passed its first hurdle at council last week.
The council has been looking at ways to curb the devastating impact cats have on wildlife and has proposed a staged crackdown on their freedom to roam, including banning them from regional parks and conservation areas as of next year.
The final stage would see “cats … required to be retained within their owner’s property at all times”; though they would be allowed out on a leash, similar to dogs.
At its last monthly meeting the council voted to include those measures into its Draft Animal Management and Exercise Plan, which is about to go out for public consultation.
“Cats have played a leading role in most of Australia’s 34 mammal extinctions since 1788, and are a significant reason populations of at least 123 other threatened native species are dropping,” a report to the council noted.
“It is estimated that pet cats in total kill 294 million animals per year.”
who sparked the review of the city’s cat management, said she was “really, really encouraged” by the officers’ report.
Cr Corke faced the wrath of catophiles when her initial motion in March asked staff to include phased-in bans as part of their investigation into cat control measures. She says that was unfairly portrayed in some media as a demand for a full ban.
Cr Corke said the proposal before council balanced environmental protection with people’s desire to own cats, and there could be some unexpected benefits to help them come to terms with a slightly less independent moggy.
“While I was researching cat control measures, I came across a lot of information about cat welfare and it turns out that cats who are kept indoors live 2.5 times as long as outdoor cats,” she said.
The modest cost of a cat enclosure would also pay for itself many times over by the savings in vet bills.
“The arguments to keep your cats inside for their own welfare are overwhelming,” she said.
Statistically, each time a pet cat is let out, it faces a potentially deadly threat for each of its nine lives; vehicles, dogs, snakes, foxes, monitor lizards, cat fights, feline immunodeficiency virus, eating baited rodents or being baited itself.
The council had been looking at introducing a 300-metre buffer around conservation reserves as one of its phases, but Cr Corke convinced her colleagues to drop that and bring forward the full restrictions.
“It was unenforceable and inequitable,” she told the Herald.
“How could you say that on one side of the road the cats had to stay inside but on the other side they could go out.
“How would you feel if you saw your neighbour’s cat taunting your cat through the lounge room window.”
by STEVE GRANT