State strikes out Freo cat controls

Cr Adin Lang says attempts to bring the WA Cat Act in line with community expectations appear to have reached a “dead end”.

A BID to ban stray cats from Fremantle’s footpaths and road reserves has been knocked back by a powerful state government committee.

The council wanted to use its cat management laws to force owners to keep their feline companions on their own property unless on a leash, with research from the University of Sydney showing domesticated prowlers kill 390 million native animals a year.

But the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation told the council its proposed amendments wouldn’t be lawful unless every single footpath, road reserve and council property was specifically named as a prohibited area.


The committee’s full advice hasn’t been released by the council, but it also argued that the proposed ban “operates in a way that has an unintended effect on cat owners’ existing rights and interests”.

As a result of the advice, the council is now expanding its list of prohibited areas to include all 94 “green spaces” under its control.

Councillor Adin Lang, who raised the original motion, said he was bitterly disappointed by the committee’s response, saying the laws would have simply put cats under the same rules as dogs.

Cr Lang said local government minister John Carey didn’t appear interested in meeting to discuss the issue, while his staff suggested looking for a solution in the existing Cat Act but didn’t have any suggestions.

“It’s important to note many local governments now wish to introduce containment laws, however it’s unreasonable to expect we keep second guessing what the state will accept – it’s clear we’re at a dead end and the Cat Act needs amendment,” he said.

“This week minister Carey’s office flagged a ‘future review’ for the Cat Act, which is confusing as a review was handed down in November 2019.

“Why bother with another costly review, let’s just get on with policy,” Cr Lang said.

The 2019 review found there was “strong support” for cat curfews to be introduced state-wide rather than leaving it local governments, and “multiple requests” to bring the Cat Act and the Dog Act into alignment.

“Seventy-three per cent of respondents supported the confinement of cats to the owner’s property. It should be noted that among cat owners, there was only 49 per cent support, with 39 per cent of cat owners opposing cat confinement,” the report noted.

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