Law forcing new pet cats to be indoor-only passes in ACT

Source: 1News

They’re curious creatures and partial to an adventure, but the great outdoors will soon be out of bounds for moggies in one part of Australia.

From July, new pet cats in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will have to either stay inside or hang out in catios.

While the law does not apply to existing cats, it means there will eventually be no cats roaming the streets of Canberra.

The goal is to help better protect the country’s biodiversity.

“If we just look at the pet cats, they are killing about 390 million animals in Australia every year,” Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute’s Dr Bruce Webber said.

But he says it’s not just about the wildlife.

“What we also need to remember in this debate is it's far better for the pet cat themselves to be contained. It stops them getting hit by cars, the injuries when they fight.”

Conservationist Gareth Morgan evoked Kiwi cat lovers’ anger in 2013 when he called for cats to be confined indoors. However, he now believes the mood has changed.

"When I first raised the same thing in New Zealand, I was vehemently opposed by the SPCA here under Bob Kerridge, but today the SPCA is fully behind this sort of policy, so they have really moved,” he said.

He says a similar law now needs to be established in New Zealand.

"You basically grandfather out wandering cats so if you're not prepared to contain your cat on your section, then make sure this cat is your last.”

While Australia’s SPCA supports ACT’s policy change, one local cat charity says it’s unacceptable.

NZ Cat Foundation’s Anne Batley Burton says the law is “basically denying cats their normal desires to go out”.

“Cats are not dogs. We all know what lockdown is like so imagine being locked down your whole life, stuck in a house when your natural instinct is to go out and party.”

Batley Burton says containing cats indoors is not practical and she will be opposing any similar policies in New Zealand.