‘Cat curfew’: Outrage over Australian plans to keep cats at home 24/7

Cat owners are infuriated by the new law, which will “tear away basic freedoms they have grown accustomed to ”

Charlene Rodrigues
Monday 12 July 2021 14:47 BST
Australia residents outraged by a new law requiring cats to stay indoors, starting October 1.
Australia residents outraged by a new law requiring cats to stay indoors, starting October 1. (Getty Images)
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Cat owners in Australia’s city of Knox, in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, are unhappy about a new law that will require them to keep their pets at home all day.

From October 1, domestic cats will be subject to a “24-hour cat curfew”. This means they won’t be allowed to wander freely, even outside their own homes.

Knox City Council Mayor Cr Lisa Cooper said the curfew is designed to protect cats and local wildlife.

“Much like the rules for dogs and other pets, cats won’t be allowed to roam freely from their owners’ property. When allowed to roam, cats are at a much higher risk of illness and injury. Keeping cats within their owners’ property also protects wildlife and prevents them from causing a nuisance for neighbours and their pets,” Ms Cooper said in a statement.

Nearly 85 per cent of people surveyed by the Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017-2021 supported the curfew, the council said.

More than 6,500 cats are registered with Knox council, which deals with roughly 600 cat-related jobs each year.

A petition, started by Andrew Dixon urging Knox council to review the plans, has garnered 2,369 signatures.

“Knox Council needs to be more considerate of the well-being and basic rights of older cats who will be affected by the 24hr lockdown of cats that will come into effect on October 1 2021, tearing away basic freedoms they’ve grown accustomed to,” the petition read.

One outraged resident Laura Maloney, who signed the petition, said, “If this stays, I’m going to be forced to surrender my cat as I can’t afford a cat run, and since my cat has experienced the outdoors, I think it is cruel to keep her confined to indoors only.”

Local media reports indicated if the cat owners allow the felines to stray, they would be subject to a $91 (£50) fine for a first offence and up to $545 for additional curfew breaches. But before they are fined, residents will be issued warnings in the first six months.

“I’m signing because my adopted cat Coco has always been indoor-outdoor. She is outdoor toilet trained, explores our yard and sun bakes when not napping. I believe it would be very distressing to keep her inside or caged in a cat run. A cat loves nothing more than to sprawl out and lay in the sun of our garden beds,” said Danielle Crljenkovic.

“A friend of mine has recently paid $10,000 to get three indoor cats teeth removed and nails trimmed and were told it is because they are indoors,” Ms Crljenkovic added.

The Knox council said they could assist cat owners support with this change, and they would also be able to provide feedback through consultation at the next Domestic Animal Management Plan, starting in July.

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