Australian Capital Territory leads the world on cat containment

I have the feeling that Australian Capital Territory (ACT) leads the world on domestic cat containment. I think that in the future humankind will look back and decide that it was the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly which was at the leading edge of the concept of permanent domestic cat containment. I can foresee in 100 years’ time this concept spreading out to many countries and areas of the world. Even countries such as the UK will adopt this style of cat ownership. It is becoming more accepted quite rapidly but I’ve noticed that ACT which incorporates Canberra, the capital city of Australia, have a very organised, thoughtful and well-planned programme of cat containment which will also include cat registration in the future. And it is supported by their citizens.

Cat containment fence
Cat containment fence. Picture: MikeB
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Cat containment fence. Photo: MikeB

The Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly manages both ACT and Canberra. As I understand it, Canberra was planned as a city as opposed to gradually evolving over centuries. Perhaps this orderly creation has led to an orderly response to what is often regarded as the “feral cat problem”.

And it is perceived that the feral cat problem emanates from careless cat ownership which allows domestic cats to roam and which also allows them to be unsterilised. It is unsterilised, abandoned and stray domestic gas which are the foundation cats of the feral cat population.

And in an attempt to both preserve Australia’s native species particularly the small mammals and marsupials, while at the same time protecting domestic cats from road accidents and diseases, the legislative assembly has gradually built up the process of cat confinement.

Cat containment Australia
Cat containment Australia. There is Aussie business specialising in building cat enclosures like this one.

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Perhaps also this is particularly important to ACT because they have a thousand kilometres of interface between the urban environment and the wild environment. They’ve created human settlements which appear to integrate nicely with wildlife reserves and nature. This places upon them a particular emphasis to protect wildlife.

As the ACT Region Conservation Council states: “Canberrans have exceptional access to protected areas, with most Canberrans living within close proximity of a nature reserve”. They are a community, as they say that lives next a nature. They call the urban-bush interface the “urban edge”.

On February 10, 2022, The Canberra Times reported that cat containment is to be expanded across Canberra and there will be mandatory cat registration introduced to the ACT when Canberra-wide cat containment comes into effect on July 1.

This I believe is a reference to the gradual extension of cat containment in the suburbs of Canberra. The Conservation Council ACT Region have stated that they believe that Canberra should legislate for 24-hour cat containment across all of Canberra by 2025. They have strong support for this they say. In 2011 a telephone survey indicated that 65% of respondents supported cat containment in all new suburbs of ACT. And 91% of ACT residents recognise the benefits of cat containment to protect wildlife and to be less of a nuisance to the community.

In 2018 the ACT government stated that the then current containment areas of: Bonner, Coombs, Crace, Denman Prospect, Forde, Jacka, Lawson, Molonglo, Moncrieff, Taylor, Throsby and Wright and The Fair at Watson were to be expanded to include new suburbs Macnamara and Strathnairn in Ginninderry and Gungahlin Town Centre east.

“Cat containment does not only benefit our native wildlife. Cats that are contained have a longer life expectancy as they are less likely to be injured or become sick. There are also benefits for the community as there are less incidents of animal nuisance such as defecation, attacks on domestic pets, noise at night and fighting behaviour”

It seems that due to Australia’s population expansion they’ve got to build new urban areas; Canberra is expanding creating new suburbs. And, for example, the new suburbs of Macnamara and Strathnairn in Ginninderry are close to the Woodstock Nature Reserve. It is this special relationship with wildlife which I believe forces the hand of the ACT government to legislate for cat containment 24/7.

And this relationship between urban areas and nature reserves is going to be a model for the future in very many places in different countries. It seems that ACT are particularly well organised in this regard and then want to keep it that way. But as human population grows in America there will be a need for a planned relationship between nature reserves and urban areas. This will lead to cat containment in those areas.

The concept of cat containment is catching on rapidly. Even in the UK which historically is known for pre-roaming domestic cats, a survey indicated that 41% of cat owners kept their cat indoors full-time. I find that number surprising by the way and I can’t be sure that it is accurate. About one third of cat owners in Australia and New Zealand keep their cats indoors full-time, it is said.

I’m not sure whether that last statistic is accurate either 😒. I do believe we have a problem with accuracy on information regarding the number of full-time indoor cats. However, we can say with clarity that the percentages are increasing and that ACT is leading the way.

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