Canberra’s pet cats are to have the chance to live longer and healthier lives under new laws promoting responsible cat ownership and protecting the environment.
Introducing the Bill, Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel said that from 1 July all cats would be required to be registered, mirroring the requirement introduced last year for dogs to be registered annually.
“Introducing annual registration for cats will mean we can reunite lost cats with their families more quickly by having up-to-date contact details and will ensure better education and enforcement of responsible cat ownership,” Mr Steel said.
He said the legislation also expanded cat containment across Canberra for cats born from 1 July.
“Cats born before this date will continue to be allowed to roam, unless they live in one of Canberra’s 17 declared cat containment suburbs,” Mr Steel said.
“We understand that existing cats and their owners may not be prepared for, or used to, full containment,” he said.
“The grandfathering approach for existing pet cats strikes the right balance to allow a fair and gradual transition.”
The Minister said all new Canberra suburbs would continue to be declared as cat containment areas, however, the Bill also updated the rules for declared cat containment areas to allow cats to be walked on a leash.
Mr Steel said pet cats which roamed lived shorter lives on average and had higher rates of disease than those that were contained to the home.
“They also cause significant harm to native wildlife like Canberra’s great bird population.”
He said existing cat owners would be able to register their cat for free while new owners after 1 July would need to pay a one-off fee.
Mr Steel said while the Bill contained strict liability offences for pet owners who did not register their cats, or keep them contained when required, Government would take an educative approach to compliance during the transition to the new scheme.