20 March 2021

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

| Lachlan Roberts
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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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Burn the witches!

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.

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?

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

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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 Mouse5:34 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.

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.

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

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

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