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Taylor joins the ranks of Canberra suburbs where cats can’t roam free

By Glynis Quinlan - 15 August 2017 16
Bengal cat

Canberra cats such as Pebbles must remain at home if they move to the new suburb of Taylor. Photo: Glynis Quinlan.

Home buyers in the fledgling Gungahlin suburb of Taylor will have to keep their cats inside their property boundaries following the announcement that it has become the latest cat containment zone.

Taylor is the thirteenth Canberra suburb to be declared a cat containment area amid a controversial push from the Conservation Council ACT Region for the whole of Canberra to be made a cat containment area by 2025.

Minister for Transport and City Services, Meegan Fitzharris, said that the decision to stop cats from roaming free in Taylor would help protect native wildlife such as the pink-tailed worm-lizard and the golden sun moth.

“Taylor is being developed close to the Kinlyside Nature Reserve and nearby open space and grasslands, which provide habitat for a range of native species including the golden sun moth and the pink-tailed worm-lizard,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“Roaming cats are known to prey on a wide variety of native animals including in our nature reserves, so it is important we act to protect wildlife in areas like the Kinlyside Nature Reserve.”

Under the Domestic Animals Act 2000 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.

Ms Fitzharris said that responsible ownership of cats was important to preserve Canberra’s rich natural wildlife.

“One of the great things about our bush capital is the range of native wildlife that calls Canberra home,” Ms Fitzharris said.

Other Canberra suburbs which have already been declared cat containment areas include  Bonner, Coombs, Crace, Denman Prospect, Forde, Jacka, Lawson, Molonglo, Moncrieff, Throsby, Wright and ‘The Fair’ at Watson.

Pet owners in these suburbs reportedly face penalties of $1,500 if their cats are found wandering the streets but at this stage the laws don’t appear to be strictly policed.

The new suburb of Taylor does not even have any residents living there yet. However, developers will be required to erect cat containment signs in the area to remind new residents of their responsibilities as cat owners.

“The ACT Government is focused on increasing public awareness of the need to address the problem at source – responsible cat ownership,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“We have been working within communities to encourage people to keep their cats contained, even in non-cat containment suburbs.”

Do you think the whole of Canberra should be made into a cat containment zone? What about Taylor and new suburbs near native wildlife? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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16 Responses to
Taylor joins the ranks of Canberra suburbs where cats can’t roam free
dungfungus 10:01 am 28 Aug 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

Holden Caulfield said :

p
Humans kill native wildlife in their cars on the roads. Every. Single. Day.

But humans do not actively seek out native wildlife on nature reserves, under bushes, in trees and anywhere native animals can survive without fear of attack. But cats can and do seek them out for sport. Not a great comparison.
Now, the whole reason for cat containment is not to stop predation in the suburbs, but to prevent cats getting into the bordering reserves and to stop them “mingling” and procreating to further enlarge the wild population.
I ask cat owners this – would they like to see domestic dogs be allowed to wander free 24 hours a day, to enter your backyard, dig up your garden and leave doggy “surprises” in your children’s sandpit? How would you like dogs mating and howling under your bedroom window at 3 A.M?
This is why cats should be incarcerated, for people’s and

property owners’ protection.

These are the salient points with excellent examples of the consequences.

wildturkeycanoe 7:27 am 27 Aug 17

Holden Caulfield said :

p
Humans kill native wildlife in their cars on the roads. Every. Single. Day.

But humans do not actively seek out native wildlife on nature reserves, under bushes, in trees and anywhere native animals can survive without fear of attack. But cats can and do seek them out for sport. Not a great comparison.
Now, the whole reason for cat containment is not to stop predation in the suburbs, but to prevent cats getting into the bordering reserves and to stop them “mingling” and procreating to further enlarge the wild population.
I ask cat owners this – would they like to see domestic dogs be allowed to wander free 24 hours a day, to enter your backyard, dig up your garden and leave doggy “surprises” in your children’s sandpit? How would you like dogs mating and howling under your bedroom window at 3 A.M?
This is why cats should be incarcerated, for people’s and property owners’ protection.

dungfungus 10:32 pm 25 Aug 17

Zultan said :

I still don’t understand the logic of flattening hundreds of acres of trees and habitats, then covering it with concrete and tarmac – and then assessing what impact pet cats might have on the wildlife. Surely the damage has already been done by the time the bulldozers move out?

Feral animals don’t know the difference between native habitat and the developed one that humans live in. That’s why we have foxes in every suburb and rabbits roaming all over Acton (at least).

Some native animals have adapted to human settlement. Kangaroos are always in my front yard but some are also killed on the main roads. The Crimson Rosella has adapted well to human settlement – I have even seen them nest in a roof gutter in Fyshwick.

Domestic cats need to be contained; feral cats need to be shot and indeed there are programmes underway involving rural land holders and shooting organisations to cull feral animals with an emphasis on cats.

This isn’t happening in the ACT though – we only cull native kangaroos.

Holden Caulfield 2:07 pm 25 Aug 17

BoomingOn said :

It’s indisputable that cats, both feral and domestic, kill wildlife, during the day and especially at night, so containment is a viable option in some areas if we as a community want to address this issue. But it’s not just wildlife that suffers at the claws of cats. We are eternally annoyed at the damage our neighbour’s cat does to our garden. It’s always intrigued me too that councils and governments require dogs to be registered but not cats, especially since cats do far more roaming. I wrote more about it here: https://boomingon.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/who-let-the-cats-out/

Humans kill native wildlife in their cars on the roads. Every. Single. Day. In my time in Canberra I’ve seen dead roos on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge three times. What’s good enough for the cat is good enough for the human; we should contain humans to their houses!

To introduce another animal into the equation, the whole cat containment thing to protect native wildlife is shutting the gate well and truly after the horse has bolted.

BoomingOn 10:39 am 25 Aug 17

It’s indisputable that cats, both feral and domestic, kill wildlife, during the day and especially at night, so containment is a viable option in some areas if we as a community want to address this issue. But it’s not just wildlife that suffers at the claws of cats. We are eternally annoyed at the damage our neighbour’s cat does to our garden. It’s always intrigued me too that councils and governments require dogs to be registered but not cats, especially since cats do far more roaming. I wrote more about it here: https://boomingon.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/who-let-the-cats-out/

Zultan 7:46 am 17 Aug 17

I still don’t understand the logic of flattening hundreds of acres of trees and habitats, then covering it with concrete and tarmac – and then assessing what impact pet cats might have on the wildlife. Surely the damage has already been done by the time the bulldozers move out?

Maya123 10:14 pm 16 Aug 17

Garfield said :

I found my post from a couple of years ago on cat containment and domestic vs feral cats.

After doing some reading I’ve learned:
1. 30% of free-roaming domestic cats (an average of 5+ hours outdoors every day or 80%+ of their waking hours) kill 2 animals a week, the other 70% of free-roaming domestic cats don’t kill
2. Domestic cat kill rates are halved when cats are kept inside at night
3. Feral cats kill 5 or more animals every day on average
4. Feral cats have been established in Australia since at least the 1850’s
5. Feral cat numbers fluctuate with the availability of food, but 15 million seems to be a reasonable average figure
6. There are 3.3 million domestic cats in Australia

So the average completely free-roaming domestic cat racks up around 32 kills a year. If kept inside at night that falls to 16. In comparison a feral cat will kill 1800+ animals a year – 57 times as many as a free roaming domestic cat and 114 times as many as a cat that is only allowed to roam during the day. Overall feral cats kill more than 27 billion animals a year. Even if all domestic cats were free roaming cats, which they aren’t, they would kill 105 million animals a year. That’s 0.4% of total cat kills.

tbc …

I have read similar research, with similar results.

Spykler 8:48 pm 16 Aug 17

Plenty of cats roaming around at night in my cat containment suburb. Have complained to our community association, not much they can do.Impossible to enforce.

Garfield 7:48 pm 16 Aug 17

I found my post from a couple of years ago on cat containment and domestic vs feral cats.

After doing some reading I’ve learned:
1. 30% of free-roaming domestic cats (an average of 5+ hours outdoors every day or 80%+ of their waking hours) kill 2 animals a week, the other 70% of free-roaming domestic cats don’t kill
2. Domestic cat kill rates are halved when cats are kept inside at night
3. Feral cats kill 5 or more animals every day on average
4. Feral cats have been established in Australia since at least the 1850’s
5. Feral cat numbers fluctuate with the availability of food, but 15 million seems to be a reasonable average figure
6. There are 3.3 million domestic cats in Australia

So the average completely free-roaming domestic cat racks up around 32 kills a year. If kept inside at night that falls to 16. In comparison a feral cat will kill 1800+ animals a year – 57 times as many as a free roaming domestic cat and 114 times as many as a cat that is only allowed to roam during the day. Overall feral cats kill more than 27 billion animals a year. Even if all domestic cats were free roaming cats, which they aren’t, they would kill 105 million animals a year. That’s 0.4% of total cat kills.

tbc …

Garfield 6:13 pm 16 Aug 17

Roksteddy said :

Garfield said :

With well fed, desexed domestic cats mostly kept indoors, or at most confined to their owner’s yards,

Are you kidding me?! Domestic cats are NOT confined to owners yards – unless they are in a containment device
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-20/cat-tracking-program-makes-owners-re-think-pet-behaviour/7431248

Garfield said :

I know people with cats and when they get hungry they come inside looking for a meal.

Its not about being hungry. Cats hunt for the sake of it – hungry or not. “Oh, but my cat has a bell on it so wildlife can hear it coming”. Sorry, but doesn’t work. I’ve watched fat, lazy ‘indoors’ cats wearing a bell stalk wildlife without the bell even moving – until I made a sound.

Read the entirety of what I wrote. In cat containment areas domestic cats are going to be mostly inside or contained to their yards.

I never denied that some domestic cats hunt some of the time. One study I read about showed that only around half of domestic cats that were allowed to roam freely displayed hunting behaviour, and their kill rates were only a small fraction of that of feral cats. Its not hard to see the reason for that – the domestic cats have easy food available from their owners while feral cats have to hunt to live. I think the numbers averaged out to something like 5+ kills a day for feral cats vs 2-3 kills a week for the average free roaming domestic cat. Those kill rates include insects such as those we flatten with our cars or kill with pesticides in the thousands. With overnight curfews the domestic kill rates were halved.

In regards to that GPS tracking of all of 13 cats – it was in NSW where desexing is not compulsory, unlike in the ACT. Its been proven that desexed cats roam over much smaller distances.

The point I was making is that if containment areas mean that suburbs end up with more feral cats because the domestic cats aren’t out there claiming territory, the wildlife outcomes could be even worse.

Take your cat hating hat off for a while and look at the issue dispassionately.

Roksteddy 3:33 pm 16 Aug 17

Garfield said :

With well fed, desexed domestic cats mostly kept indoors, or at most confined to their owner’s yards,

Are you kidding me?! Domestic cats are NOT confined to owners yards – unless they are in a containment device
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-20/cat-tracking-program-makes-owners-re-think-pet-behaviour/7431248

Garfield said :

I know people with cats and when they get hungry they come inside looking for a meal.

Its not about being hungry. Cats hunt for the sake of it – hungry or not. “Oh, but my cat has a bell on it so wildlife can hear it coming”. Sorry, but doesn’t work. I’ve watched fat, lazy ‘indoors’ cats wearing a bell stalk wildlife without the bell even moving – until I made a sound.

gbates 7:33 pm 15 Aug 17

Don’t worry. Like many rules in Cbr there’s absolutely zero enforcement.

Maya123 10:52 am 15 Aug 17

I live in an inner city suburb and it is rare to see any cats outside now. However, there has been no noticeable increase in wildlife matching this.
I have long believed that cats are not the main cause of reduced (small) wildlife, but the clearing of habitat and humans that are the main cause of reduced wildlife. But humans are sacred and must never be blamed, while cats are made the scapegoat.

One example. I moved into a house with basically only lawn for a garden. I rarely saw any small lizards and the like. I planted small bushes and ground-covers and when these grew I suddenly noticed small lizards living there. The cat population had remained the same; only now there were places for the small creatures such as lizards to live and hide in, so their numbers increased.
Before people hold cats accountable for all ills, they should look at themselves and their own environment.

I sold that house and one of the first things the new owner did was clear much of the garden. Now it is left uncared for and relatively barren. I would guess there has been a corresponding reduction in wildlife. But easier to blame the cats.

I do not own a cat, so have none to defend. I do believe though in a maximum number allowed to be owned per household, unless they are registered breeders, and registration is worth considering; even for a once off fee.

Garfield 10:29 am 15 Aug 17

The question I’ve never seen addressed anywhere is what happens to feral cat populations in cat containment areas. With well fed, desexed domestic cats mostly kept indoors, or at most confined to their owner’s yards, doesn’t that free up territory for ferals to occupy? A CT article from February said that cat capture from containment suburbs increased 27%, meaning that’s what could be happening.

I know people with cats and when they get hungry they come inside looking for a meal. When feral cats get hungry they have to scavenge or hunt. Even though some domestic cats will hunt some wildlife, they’re going to kill a lot fewer animals than feral cats that need to kill to keep themselves alive. I think this is a big potential flaw in the theory behind cat containment.

No_Nose 10:03 am 15 Aug 17

I’ve never understood why it is not mandatory for cat owners to register their animal in the same way as dogs.

I think for both species a nominal registration fee of say $25 per year for a desexed/neutered animal should not be an issue.

To discourage unwanted kittens/puppies the fee should be around $1000 per year for an animal that has not been neutered. That way only the serious breeders and show dog people should own full animals and those just wanting a companion pet will get them fixed.

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