Geelong ramps up sunset cat curfew to 24-hour confinement

Cat confinement
Cat confinement. Image is free to use. Click on it to see the larger original.
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I’m looking at the minutes of a council meeting for the City of Greater Geelong dated 27 February 2024. It’s a meeting in which the council members discussed the ramping up of a cat curfew order enacted on 1 July 2009 two a full-blown cat containment order which will come into effect on 1 September 2024.

The council members reviewed the curfew which requires owners of a cat or cats to keep them securely confined to their premises between sunset and sunrise.

The council commissioned a review of that cat ownership restriction in 2022 which they say demonstrated strong support at 61.9% for the introduction of a 24-hour cat confinement.

Accordingly, the amended cat confinement order proposes that all cats kept within the City of Greater Geelong must be securely confined to their owner’s premises at all times and if cats leave their owners’ premises, they must be securely confined in a cat carrier or other reasonable means of restraint. They don’t specify the restraint but this almost certainly means on a lead or leash attached to a harness.

The council believes that this cat confinement order promotes responsible pet ownership and addresses the problems of wondering domestic cats in terms of environmental and wildlife damage.

And they would hope that the 24-hour confinement will reduce cats’ impact on neighbours.

Confined cats can have access to outdoor areas which I presume means a catio or a secure cat enclosure.

There will be a six-month transition period to allow cat owners to make the necessary modifications to their property and to their cats’ behaviour.

Council offices will transmit this amendment to the cat curfew order to full-time cat confinement over the six-month transition period and explain the purposes.

They will also explain how owners can achieve compliance.

The new order for a 24-hour confinement was adopted by the council members on 27 February 2024.

The council members also agreed that the confinement order would see a reduction in the number of cats impounded at the council’s pound which will result in a cost saving to the council.

The communication plan i.e. to communicate the order to the public would cost around AU$5000 including advertising.

They conducted a survey of the cat curfew order over a six-week period between June and July 2023. There were 2352 responsive to the survey. The results are as follows:

49.36% of participants were cat owners while 49.62% were not cat owners and the remainder were cat foster carers.

65.5% of all respondents reported issues with wondering cats where they lived. These included ‘trespass’, spraying and defecating on the property and killing wildlife and cat fights.

61.9% of respondents preferred a change to 24-hour cat confinement. 38.7% preferred to keep the sunset to sunrise curfew.

60.98% of cat owners felt that the current curfew works well while 16.54% of non-cat owners felt that the current curfew works well.

39.02% of cat owners felt that the current curfew is ineffective at managing cat nuisance and destructive behaviours.

83.46% of non-cat owners felt that the current curfew is ineffective at managing cat nuisance and destructive behaviours.

The new order will be published in the government Gazette and a local newspaper in accordance with legal requirements.

Comment: this gradual ramping up of cat ownership restrictions is not untypical in Australia. This is because the authorities have many years campaigned for it with the intention of protecting wildlife. The various states in Australia are at different stages of progress in terms of cat ownership restrictions.

The great weakness, as I have mentioned before, in this kind of council order is that despite the six-month that cat owners have to prepare their homes for full-time cat confinement, most if not all will not take that opportunity to enrich the interior environment of their homes sufficiently in order that their cats can fully express their natural desires and motivations which they are able to do now outside the home. And therefore, the cats will become bored and sleep a lot more. They will be less active. They may pleasure eat. It is likely that many more cats will become obese. And it is also reasonable to suggest that many more cats will need to see a veterinarian having acquired diseases associated with obesity such as e.g. type 2 diabetes and associated kidney disease.

Geelong is close to and southwest of Melbourne, Victoria.

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