Feline freedoms in Canberra could be curtailed if a new report is adopted by the ACT Government. Penned by an academic, Kathy Eyles, from the ANU’s Fenner School and an ACT Government environmental planner, the report is being considered by Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury. The report recommends that cats should be permanently prohibited from the alfresco lifestyle, effectively ‘containing’ them forever… and ever.
The report is in response to the devastating impacts cats can have on the environment, and with most of Canberra’s suburbs being within roaming distance of a high density of little native faunae, the environmental impacts can be quite catastrophic.
As it is presently illegal to allow your little moggies to roam in new ACT suburbs, many cat owners have curbed their critters to the cosy confines of the indoor chesterfield or outdoor cages.
In his plight to balance the needs of cat owners and the native faunae, kangaroo culling Rattenbury will have to consider the repawt’s council carefully. Asking cat owners to confine their cats forever will be a tall order – let alone an enforceable one. Referring to the possible prohibition, Rattenbury said, ‘I think if we were to go down that path there would need to be a long lead-in time’.
On a more serious note, the news comes as feral cats have recently ripped through the last bilby population in Australia in Queensland’s Astrebla Downs National Park.
Growing up in the country, I was quite used to humanely shooting feral cats. The carnage they would cause to beautiful native birds was awful, and they pretty much wiped out the antechinus population – a spritely and determined little marsupial known for mating itself to an exhausted death.
Although the situation may be different here in Canberra, the development does prompt some moral questions for our community to consider. Does the Government have a right to dictate that all cats should remain indoors, and if it does; is it ethical to own a cat at all?