For owners buying into new developments in the Queanbeyan-Palerang region, the term ‘domestic cat’ will take on a very literal meaning.
The Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) is looking to extend its Cat Containment Policy from Googong and Jumping Creek to cover all new greenfield residential developments in a bid to protect native wildlife.
Current greenfield developments in the region include South Jerrabomberra, Braidwood Ridge and Elmslea Grove.
QPRC became the first council in NSW to adopt a cat containment policy in May 2021, which covered the new residential areas of Googong (Neighbourhoods 2-6), Googong Sunset and Jumping Creek.
Cat owners in these areas must ensure the animals cannot roam outside the property boundary unless they are on the end of a lead or in a carry box.
QPRC said it had experienced an increase in cat-related complaints following the growth of Googong and its proximity to the Googong Dam foreshore, bushland and rural properties.
The complaints included cats digging and defecating in private gardens, scratching vehicles, fighting at night and causing excess noise, hunting and killing wildlife and contributing to nuisance dog barking.
The council is now “exploring opportunities to extend this policy” as part of its Draft Delivery Program 2022-2026, according to a spokesperson.
“We will begin the longer term conversation with the community about the possibilities and implications of applying the policy more broadly,” they said.
Existing developments in Queanbeyan, Braidwood, Bungendore and the other smaller towns will remain exempt.
The rules are a softer version of those in the ACT, where all cats will need to be registered and contained from 1 July 2022.
Existing owners will be able to register their cats for free while new owners will pay a small one-off fee after this date.
‘Grandfathering’ arrangements will apply for cats born before this date. This means they can continue to roam unless they live in one of Canberra’s 17 declared cat containment suburbs.
In September last year, the NSW Government also launched a four-year program called ‘Keeping Cats Safe at Home’.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said it was designed to protect the state’s unique wildlife.
“Domestic cats are estimated to kill around 67 million native mammals, 83 million native reptiles and 80 million native birds in Australia each year,” he said.
“We all love living close to bushland and even though we love our pets, we know native species and domestic cats don’t co-exist well, so we need to make sure our native wildlife is protected.”
Ten urban and regional councils teamed up with RSPCA NSW to encourage pet owners to keep their cats within their property boundaries. QPRC wasn’t included, however.
QPRC’s extension of the cat containment policy falls under the ‘Community’ section in the Draft Delivery Program 2022-2026.
The QPRC Draft Delivery Program 2022-2026 welcomes comment from the community until 29 May 2022. Find it online.