Responsible pet ownership and the protection of wildlife: Options for improving the management of cats in the ACT

Cats are important companion animals in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) with about a quarter of Canberra households owning a cat. All cat owners are required to de-sex and microchip their cats, and in certain suburbs cats must be contained to the owner’s property at all times. Contained cats have a longer life expectancy and improved health as they are less likely to sustain injuries and pick up feline diseases. Importantly, cat containment also benefits the community with less nuisance from roaming cats and predation of native wildlife.

Canberra’s bush setting means most residential suburbs are nestled around the nature reserves of Canberra Nature Park. Living so close to nature brings human benefits from everyday interaction with wildlife but also means native wildlife are more vulnerable to predation from roaming domestic cats. The effectiveness of the ACT’s existing cat containment laws is limited due the small number of suburbs subject to 24 hour containment and little enforcement where the laws do apply.

This paper explores ways to improve the management of cats in the ACT, building on the existing management regulations. An integrated package of reforms (regulations, education and stray cat control) in the ACT to address cat welfare, nuisance and predation is recommended. The paper also identifies the need for much better alignment between cat containment laws and wildlife conservation objectives and threat management plans.

Secondary titleA Background Paper prepared for the ACT Responsible Cat Ownership Steering Committee
AuthorKathy Eyles and Michael Mulvaney
Place publishedCanberra
ISBN/ISSNISBN: 978-0-9871175-6-4
Control methodIntegrated Pest Management
DocumentsResponsible pet ownership and the protection of wildlife: Options for improving the management of cats in the ACT   [3.3 Mb PDF]
LinksACT Government information on domestic cats in the ACT