Places where domestic cats are confined to the home by law

You may know that there is a gradual, modern trend towards confining domestic cats to their home and the surrounding back and front yard. Whether or not domestic cats are confined to their owners’ properties depends upon individual owner preferences, local laws and cultural norms. There are jurisdictions (places where an authority has control through ordinances) where cat owners are legally required to keep their cats indoors. We won’t know where they all are but here are some examples.

Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats where cat confinement is obligatory.
Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats. Image: MikeB (Canva).
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Below are some examples:

Singapore: Since 2014, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) made it obligatory for cat owners to keep their cats indoors if they live in one of the government owned blocks of flats named Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats. These are publicly owned apartments and a very prevalent form of homeowner occupation in Singapore. The mandated rules are intended to prevent or minimise stray cats and maintain a clean environment. The rules are controversial as it is argued that almost 80% of Singapore residents are barred from having a cat companion.

RELATED: Almost 80% of Singapore residents are barred from having a cat companion

Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia: In a very advanced approach to rules governing pet ownership, ACT mandates that domestic cats must be kept indoors at all times. The objective: to protect wildlife from domestic cat predation. Australia is very sensitive to domestic and feral cat predation because many of their native species are only found on the Australian continent and are native to that continent. And they are often small mammals and marsupials which are ideal small prey animals for domestic cats which can escape and become feral and procreate. That is the fear of the ACT government and in fact other state governments who may follow suit one day.

Various cities and towns in the USA: The problem here is locating these small jurisdictions such as a city. Sometimes in America the administrators of a city create ordinances which might impact cat ownership. Therefore, there are cities and municipalities in the United States which have implemented ordinances requiring that domestic cats be kept within the confines of their owner’s properties meaning the home and the surrounding yards/gardens.

For example, cities such as Santa Monica and Laguna Beach, in California, have regulations which promote indoor confinement both or the safety of the cats and for the protection of wildlife.

Condominiums and apartment complexes: You will find some smaller jurisdictions such as cities and apartment complexes where they may have particular laws relating to cat ownership to varying degrees. And at a very local level, in America, you will probably find some condominiums and residential communities where there are rules governing cat ownership which may extend to keeping cats indoors. This would be for the maintenance and improvement of the amenity of the condominium i.e. to prevent stray cats and perhaps their procreation to feral cats.

RELATED: New Manatee County ordinance protects cats. All American counties should have a similar law.

The problems of lack of stimulation

Although it is very difficult to build a catio in an apartment above the first floor, sometimes people do this. The point I’m making here is that the catio is a nice intermediate, compromised way of providing a confined cat with some outdoor enjoyment and mental stimulation while still being confined.

The big problem with full-time indoor confinement is to stop the cats becoming bored. The authorities who lay down the rules probably don’t fully understand the problems that they can cause. It is up to the owners to respond by doing their best to enrich their domestic cat companion’s environment. Sadly, very few do respond in this way. In my view, this is a contributory factor to what is described as an obesity epidemic among domestic gas in America as bored cats lack exercise and they eat for pleasure like humans.

RELATED: The big flaw that is never admitted in keeping cats indoors full-time

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