More suburbs added to the list of Canberra areas where cats cannot roam free

Lachlan Roberts 20 March 2021 37

Kitty please: Strathnairn and Macnamara become the latest cat containment suburbs in the ACT.

Residents in the fledgeling Ginninderry suburbs of Strathnairn and Macnamara will have to keep their cats inside their property boundaries following the announcement that they have become the latest cat containment areas in the ACT.

Starting on 15 August 2018, Strathnairn and Macnamara will be the newest Canberra suburbs declared as cat containment areas along with a large area near the Gungahlin Marketplace shopping centre.

City presentation director at Transport Canberra and City Services Stephen Alegria said that the decision to stop cats from roaming free in the new suburbs was to help protect native wildlife.

“The new suburbs of Macnamara and Strathnairn are close by to the Woodstock Nature Reserve where there is an abundance of native wildlife that we are passionate about preserving for future generations,” Mr Alegria said.

Under the legislation, an area can be declared a cat containment area if cats in that area are judged to pose a serious threat to native wildlife. People living in cat containment areas must confine their cats to their premises at all times.

Mr Alegria said several urban development areas in Gungahlin are required to be declared as cat containment areas, including the area identified as Gungahlin Town Centre east, due to their proximity to a variety of nature reserves including Crace and Mulangarri.

“Being a cat owner is enormously rewarding however, like any pet owner, it comes with responsibilities. One of the primary responsibilities is to ensure that your pet is happy, healthy and not having a negative impact on the community in any way,” Mr Alegria said.

“Domestic cats are natural predators and as such they pose a significant threat to our native wildlife. Many Canberra suburbs are in close proximity to nature reserves, areas that have been specifically set up for the protection of our native wildlife. Roaming cats can enter these protected areas where they can prey on Canberra’s native wildlife.”

Current cat containment areas include Bonner, Coombs, Crace, Denman Prospect, Forde, Jacka, Lawson, Molonglo, Moncrieff, Taylor, Throsby and Wright and The Fair at Watson.

READ ALSO: See Moncrieff Differently

Under the legislation, if a cat is found roaming in a containment area, it may be seized by a TCCS ranger and an infringement notice can be issued to the keeper or carer of the cat.

More information on cat containment is available here or by phoning Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

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37 Responses to More suburbs added to the list of Canberra areas where cats cannot roam free
Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 9:46 pm 20 Aug 18

Loviatar wrote: “While there are a plethora of reasons cats should be kept secured, there are no benefits to them being allowed to wander.”

The nanny-state is strong in this one.

It’s no surprise that a movement is growing to ban the people who want to ban things.

For thousands of years, humans have used cats to control vermin. The cats I own are excellent rat hunters. Neighbours have expressed their appreciation of them as they control rodent numbers on adjacent properties, as well as my own.

Creating new suburbs involves clearing large areas of bush and grassland, replacing native habitats with concrete and bitumen. Compared to that level of environmental destruction, the impact of domestic cats is minor.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:03 pm 20 Aug 18

    We had a cat once that the neighbours thanked us for too. They had chickens and a resultant rat problem. When we moved in with our cat the rat problem was solved; hence they were very happy and liked the cat coming into their yard. In fact their dog and our cat became friends and would play together; even sleep together. It was amazing to see. My last cat though would have made a bad ratter; hunting wasn't his thing.

Maya123 Maya123 11:02 am 19 Aug 18

Burn the witches!

    Garfield Garfield 8:45 am 20 Aug 18

    Spot on. Despite cats being the second most popular pet, there’s no shortage of cat haters out there, and no shortage of people who can’t or don’t want to see the differences between the hunting of a well fed domestic cat and a feral one. Family members of mine have cats that are only allowed out during the day. They just burn some energy checking out the gardens and then either have a sleep outside if its warm enough or come back in. Their scent marks their territory and is a warning to other cats to be careful. Their hunting instinct really only kicks in around dusk as the birds are looking to roost, which is one reason why the cats are kept inside after they’ve had dinner. During the day the birds will happily land on the lawn to look for insects, knowing the cats can’t sneak up on them, and the cats know it too despite some tail thrashing. Cat containment for them would mean stressing them out by keeping them cooped up inside, or the owners spending quite a few thousand dollars cat proofing the yard. Their neighbours had a cat that was never looked after properly and it had to turn into a hunter to survive. If these particular cats have to be kept inside, that other cat will have free range through their yard for its hunting.

Jen Dee Jen Dee 10:08 pm 18 Aug 18

Why can’t it just be for the whole of the ACT?

Elspeth Nelson Elspeth Nelson 3:03 pm 18 Aug 18

Keep 'em coming!

Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 7:04 am 18 Aug 18

Excellent. Responsible cat owns keep them contained most of the time anyway.

Shane O'Loughlin Shane O'Loughlin 9:08 pm 17 Aug 18

Every suburb should be a containment area.

John Andriunas John Andriunas 3:29 pm 17 Aug 18

Please make it all of Canberra.

Rowan Hurrell Rowan Hurrell 12:31 pm 17 Aug 18

Great, dogs can't roam free why should cats be allowed

    Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 1:36 pm 17 Aug 18

    Perhaps because cats don’t attack and injure people at the rate that unsecured dogs do.

    Jimmy Mcneill Jimmy Mcneill 1:59 pm 17 Aug 18

    But they do kill plenty of wildlife.

    Rowan Hurrell Rowan Hurrell 2:24 pm 17 Aug 18

    Cats kill around 1 million birds every day in Australia

    Heather Wilkins Heather Wilkins 2:27 pm 17 Aug 18

    Matt Donnelly you obviously don’t know an angry cat!!!! Or a feral one!

    Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 3:12 pm 17 Aug 18

    Heather Wilkins, if you have data indicating that wandering domestic cat attacks are on par with wandering domestic dog attacks in the ACT, I’d be very keen to see it 😉

    Rowan Hurrell Rowan Hurrell 3:37 pm 17 Aug 18

    If dog attacks are such a problem why are suburbs cat enclosure areas? Oh cause dogs are usually in there yards where they should be

    Heather Wilkins Heather Wilkins 3:44 pm 17 Aug 18

    Matt Donnelly I wasn’t aware that giving opinions required data!!!! I’m not saying dogs don’t attack! I’m saying cats aren’t all angels either!!!!

    Jackie White Jackie White 3:47 pm 17 Aug 18


    Dogs kill plenty of wildlife. They do it in their own yards. They're particularly fond of lizards and koalas. Dog owners love living in denial.

    Heather Wilkins Heather Wilkins 3:53 pm 17 Aug 18

    Jackie White I don’t think it’s a denial issue, I think it’s an emotive issue. I don’t think you can say dog owners or cat owners love their animals differently or more or less. I have had both and know that they become part of the family. I think the main issue is the impact that all domesticated animals have on Australian wild life, and a long denied issue. And more than anything I’m glad that we are now looking at different management approach’s, which will hopefully suit all animal lovers. Not just dogs v cats!

Bill Darkwood Bill Darkwood 8:53 am 17 Aug 18

Great. Cats should not be allowed to roam.

Maya123 Maya123 12:30 am 17 Aug 18

I hardly ever see a cat now and I don’t live in a containment area. (I don’t own a cat.) I enjoyed the cats and they made the place seem friendlier. I have not noticed any increase in small bird life despite a lack of cats. In fact, since the number of cats have gone down, the number of small birds might have decreased too. Not saying this is connected though; just an unscientific observation. I would not imprison a cat unless I could cage the entire back garden. But would that help the bird life denying them access?

    anyd anyd 2:06 pm 18 Aug 18

    Hi Maya, I’ve been living in a central Canberra suburb for 20 years and began setting cat traps 15 years ago. This was because they, being feral or not, would use my garden and house as somewhere to defecate as well as mark their territory (I don’t own a dog, which is the best cat repellent). The number of cats I have caught and taken to the RSPA in this period has been remarkable. They are numerous, but you don’t see them during the day or even most of the dark (Interestingly, most of the trappings occur between 3am and 4am). Usually what happens after catching a cat the area becomes nuisance free but only for a brief time. Then another cat will move in, and begin marking the same territory that the previous cat did. I have seen this pattern repeated ad nauseam to the point where I have given up trapping the animals, it appears a pointless exercise for the number of actual free-roaming cats out there. It’s for this reason I support cat containment for all of Canberra. This is the ONLY way we will reduce cat numbers. It’s time to give our native critters a chance.

    I have been trapping cats for

    Maya123 Maya123 10:59 am 19 Aug 18

    You probably caused days, weeks, longer of tears and heartache for some people, stealing a member of their family. I could not be so cruel to my neighbours. Tear in eye here. I have caught several feral cats and taken them to he RSPCA, but I would never deprive a person of their beloved cat.

    I have always had vegetable gardens and a better looked after garden than most around me, and although I hardly ever see a cat where I live now, in my last (also inner city) house I had a number of domestic cat visitors who I welcomed. I do believe it’s a state of mind about how much damage a cat does to a garden. I had a tenant who found cat damage that I never noticed, or worried about. (But she also had a cleaning phobia – OCD.) Most cats bury their poo. As an example of wildlife, when I moved in (my last house) I never saw any lizards, but as I planted the garden I began to see them, especially very small ones, and this was despite the area being filled with cats. I had provided habitat where the tiny lizards could hide, and so they flourished. (My new garden is still being created.) As for birds that depends on the individual cat. Some hunt; some don’t. I haven’t had a cat for years, but when I did I have had both kinds. My last cat didn’t hunt, but he was aggressive to other cats and kept them out of the garden. The result, I would see him lying in the sun with birds on the ground not far from him, and he not at all interested in catching them. Humans expansion is a bigger problem than cats.

Maureen Cummuskey Maureen Cummuskey 11:50 pm 16 Aug 18

I'd rather contain the Barr extermination of Canberra. And I have never voted liberal.

Loviatar Loviatar 10:06 pm 16 Aug 18

They should gradually extend the “cat-free” zone to other areas, and eventually to the entirety of Canberra. While there are a plethora of reasons cats should be kept secured, there are no benefits to them being allowed to wander.

In this street alone there are a dozen wandering cats. This means we get the delight of nightly fights, daily bickering, fighting with possums (they’re a whole other problem), setting off every dog in a 3-street radius any time between about 6am and 11pm, a three-legged cat that just sits in the middle of the road (several cars have come to a screeching stop), at least 5 or 6 of the “lovelies” that use our front garden as a litter box, and the joy of having a neighbourhood cat just sit outside out window irritating our indoor cats and dog.

So tell me again, why are cats allowed to wander the streets and why is it “wrong” for individuals to do something about it?

Marcia Denman Marcia Denman 9:43 pm 16 Aug 18

At Hastings Point nsw

actcyclist actcyclist 8:55 pm 16 Aug 18

I’m in a so-called cat free zone but I don’t think I’ve lived in a place with so many cats before.

When I moved in I reported a cat coming into my yard and got a response from the government person that if I got a cage and caught the cat myself and delivered it to them then something would happen. That seems ridiculous to me/
Since then I’ve noticed cats everywhere.

My feeling is that you can just ignore the cat containment laws- everyone in my area is. No one will enforce them, they’re just there for show.

    JC JC 10:03 pm 16 Aug 18

    Serious question. How do you expect them to police it? They either need to catch the cat which one would assume by the time you have reported it as being in your back yard it would have moved on, or somehow you can identify the owner of said cat.

    Other than that there isn’t anything all the practical (and legal) to do about it.

    actcyclist actcyclist 12:46 pm 17 Aug 18

    I don’t know. I would expect governments to only have laws that can be practically implemented. Maybe they should abolish this one because it’s not enforced or enforceable.

    JC JC 7:18 am 20 Aug 18

    Ah see therein lies the problem. Many laws are only there to give the appearance of doing something because that’s what the public wants to see.

    Take the One hit laws in NSW. Introduced in a rush to counter a problem that was getting airtime, whilst I certainly don’t support people doing this kind of nonsense can anyone really say the laws are reducing this crime or that existing laws could not effectively prosecute those who do this? For the most part it was all political theatre.

A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 5:34 pm 16 Aug 18

The set of townhouses where I live includes some patches of restored remnant bush and native grasslands and is close to nature reserves. Although our suburb is not a cat containment area, our owners corporation recently amended its animal keeping rule in a way that amounts to cat (and any other animal) containments. Put simply, our rules are simple and permissive about keeping an animal within individual units areas but any animal on the common property must be under the control and supervision of a responsible person.
We have some cat owners who take their cat out on a lead. Others have indoor cats that stick close by to the owner when they are out in their garden. Cat owners often have parts of their unit’s outdoor area netted to contain their cat.
When the rule was introduced, existing cats that were accustomed to roaming were ‘grandfathered’; they can continue to roam but no new animal can.
I recall seeing research evidence showing that birds and reptiles were as often subject to predation by cats during the day as by night.

Maya123 Maya123 5:07 pm 16 Aug 18

Anyone notice the small bird population increasing in the suburbs that ban cats? I doubt it with feral cats and foxes out there taking the domestic cats places, and the wild animals are much more hungry. The greatest damage to wildlife is urban expansion.

    JC JC 10:04 pm 16 Aug 18

    Very true. But every little bit helps one would think.

    Maya123 Maya123 12:20 am 17 Aug 18

    It might get worse with containment and other predators moving in. However, we do more damage than cats.

Frunkensteen Frunkensteen 10:20 am 16 Aug 18

Considering our cats mostly bring in dead rats I think they’re more useful than destructive. I suspect the reason for the numbers of rats is the chickens next door. I have no problem with the chickens, I just appreciate the cats keeping the rat population under control

    Robbie C Robbie C 4:29 pm 16 Aug 18

    That’s selective bias. Whilst your cat is probably harmless, on average they aren’t. Admittedly my cat just wants to sit in the sun and catch rays, not birds, but keeping him indoors is something he’ll just have to learn to love! 😛

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