Contain your cats

As an environmental scientist, I have always been of the belief cats should be contained. I know many would disagree, but we’ve had very happy cats in the past who had supervised outdoor time, and contained outdoor time. Happy cat, happy wildlife.

I don’t think people realise the horrific affect their roaming cats have on wildlife. In Australia, feral cats kill native animals at a rate equivalent to last year’s summer bushfires. That’s 3 billion native animals, or 1,100 per cat every year.

Feral cats highly efficient killers of native animals | Daily Telegraph
Feral cat with a native mammal
Source: Grafton News

Of course, it’s not only the feral cats that kill. Domestic cats are killing machines as well. It’s estimated the pets are collectively killing about one million animals per day.

Together, feral and domestic cats are the major cause behind the extinction of three quarters of all Australian mammal species lost since colonisation. And about three out of nine bird extinctions.

In Canberra, where I live, new suburbs are designated cat containment suburbs, meaning all cats are required to be contained to the house, or an enclosed outdoor space. However, earlier this year it was announced by the territory government that they will extend cat containment to every Canberra suburb, with all new cats to be required to be locked up from next year. Cats acquired after July 1, 2022 will need to be contained across Canberra.

Pin on Cat & dog
From: Pinterest

They are allowing cats owned before this date to be excluded from the rule, unless they live in an existing cat containment area. However, the government will continue to promote voluntary cat containment in other areas.

They are also introducing annual registration for cats (we’ve had an annual dog registration for years).

This is a progressive move I fully support. Do you have similar rules where you are? Or do you contain your cat?

16 comments on “Contain your cats

  1. I had no idea cats were causing such a problem. I can’t have a cat due to my daughter being quite allergic and owning a cat would mean she couldn’t comfortably visit me. The cats of my childhood were never contained. I remember them bringing mouse carcasses to the doorstep frequently, despite being very well fed.
    Yes, I agree now…cats should be contained like dogs are. Thanks for educating me, AJ.


    • I’m highly allergic too, Deb, which is why after our last cat crossed the rainbow bridge we didn’t get another. When I was a kid we didn’t contain our cat either, but we didn’t understand it back then either.

  2. Not an issue even on my radar, Anita. I had no idea how deadly cats were to birds–so many extinctions!

    • I think people forget that cats are really nocturnal animals, so owners don’t tend to see the havoc they cause to wildlife at night.

  3. The complex I live in requires dogs on a leash and cats on a leash if let outside. Alas, some neighbors aren’t so careful with their cats. (There is one person who walks her cat on a leash. It’s a bit weird to see.) I do not currently have a cat.

    • We tried to teach our cat to walk on a leash but she went psycho everytime we tried, so we gave up. There’s a bit of controversy about cats on leashes here because technically the law doesn’t allow it, but people want to be able to do so.

  4. I’ve always kept my cats inside, though we did have one that sort of belonged to the neighborhood who came and went as she pleased. One night she went and we never saw her again. We’ve had a lot of cats here…

    • That’s the other problem with cats roaming at night – they can get into trouble themselves. I’ve had lots of cats over the years, but my allergies have beaten me. I have a friend who has cats, so I visit her when I’m needing some cat time (after dosing myself with anti-histamines).

  5. I could not agree more. I don’t know our local cat rules because I don’t have a cat. But plenty of people let their cats roam freely. The past few weeks, I’ve noticed an orange tabby staking out my birdfeeder. I scare it away whenever I see it. The number of animals killed by cats is astounding.

    • It’s rather terrifying when you read the numbers, isn’t it. We have a neighbour with a cat and they let it roam. It uses our garden as its kitty litter tray which is awful. I try and garden and have to deal with its waste which is also killing some of my plants. They tell me how great it is they don’t have to worry about a kitty litter tray… grrr.

  6. Hi Anita,
    I am a huge advocate of people keeping their cats under control. I live next to a nature reserve and I’ve seen the damage they wreak on native species.

    It angers me when people argue that their cat ‘is wild animal’ so that’s why it needs roam free.

    My daughter once house sat for a woman who used to live up the road with her free-roaming cat. I bought it a collar with a bell but once the woman came back from her holiday she removed the bell: “It annoys the cat,” she said.

    I can’t believe the ignorance and selfish behaviour of some cat owners.

    Not all cat owners are like that. I once knew a woman whose cat lived in her apartment. No, it’s not cruel. The cat sat on the warm balcony in the sun all day and lived the life of a royal cat, never being denied anything. It was a happy cat.

    And I’ve seen some cat owners walking their pets on a leash.

    Anyway, with ya on this one sista!

    • Our cat lived most of her life inside and she was perfectly happy (she’d often choose not to go outside even if she was given the chance to go into the yard with us). Did you know that bells on collars rarely work with cats because they can learn how to move without making the bell ding? It’s quite amazing how stealthy they can be!

  7. Talking about it and passing laws does not get rid of feral cats. The community has to invest in TNVR. That is Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Release. The program is usually run by an animal shelter, locally it costs me about $12.00 per animal I bring in.

    Cats took over my life a few years ago, I am, actually, a dog person, but such things happen. All of our cats were feral, and all have been neutered. However, the guy down the street will not support TNVR, he just feeds cats. Evey day I see one that I had not seen before and passing his house I can see dozens.

    If you want rid of feral cats, everyone has to contribute.

    • These laws won’t get rid of feral cats, but hopefully they will reduce the number of domestic cat kills and also breeding with feral cats.

      I’m not sure what the local program is for feral animals. I believe there is a TNVR program, but I can’t be 100% sure. When I worked in the outback I had to trap, kill and dissect feral cats to determine what they had been eating as part of my job. They were huge in size (around the 6 to 7kg mark -> 13 – 15lb), and vicious things. The most common food was small mammals and reptiles.

  8. “One million animals per day” is… a lot! I didn’t know about containing rules in Australia.

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