How many cats do you have? For myself, I have three—but to be totally honest, I’d love to have more! Most of us cat lovers can agree, cats are better when there’s more to be had! For Australians in the town of Mount Barker (yes, really), cat owners are going to start being limited to two cats per household policy. All in an effort to help control the influx of Australian cats that are destroying indigenous wildlife.
It’s been known for years that Australia is experiencing a “cat problem”—both in terms of feral and domesticated. The town feels that they are doing their part in a joint effort to cull two million feral cats by 2020 because they are considered an invasive species.
The planed policy for the cat by-law has 4 stages which are being implemented and strictly enforced:
- Two cats per property (more than 2 is deemed “animal hoarding”); households who currently have 2+ are exempt
- All felines, including canines, must be registered via the town council
- “Nuisance” behavior—i.e., a cat “creating an issue which interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of a person, including but not limited to a cat(s) displaying aggressive nature or creating unpleasant noise or odor” will be addressed immediately
- A cat curfew is in order between the hours of 8PM to 7AM, which is intended to greatly reduce the “nuisance” behavior while protecting people’s cats.
The details of the new law, according to the Mount Barker District Council’s website:
The new cat by-law will include the following changes:
Council will trial a transition period to finalise details (including dispensation processes, fines and actions)
Limit to cat numbers (2 per property)
Placing a limit on the number of cats which can reside at a property will assist with the reduction of unwanted kittens which require rehoming. It will also build the capacity to addresses excessive cat numbers causing health, nuisance and welfare issues.
The Cat By-law allows for some flexibility when it comes to cat numbers at a premises.
Similar to requests in relation to dog numbers, cat owners will need to apply to Council to seek approval for more than two cats to be kept at their property. An application form and an application process will be available on our website in coming weeks.
In assessing the request to keep more than two cats on a property, Council staff will require the applicant to seek the consent of their immediate neighbours. If the property is a rental then written consent of the property owner or the managing land agent will be required.
- all the cats being kept on the premises will need to be desexed;
- no insanitary condition is being caused by keeping of the cats on the premises; and
- no nuisance is being caused by the cats
If Council receives complaints about cats once dispensation has been granted, or cats from the property have been observed to be contravening the curfew, then the dispensation for an extra cat can be revoked.
The city’s Mayor, Ann Ferguson, claims that she is a “cat lover” and does not want people to think that this new policy was proposed as an unfair treatment to cat owners or an attack against cared for felines:
“There are more people out there who love cats and tolerate cats…Cat haters exist but they are few and far between.” — Ann Ferguson, Mayor of Mount Barker
The purpose of the law is to protect owned cats, but while also protecting the property of others as well as wildlife that calls the area home: “Cats defecating on people’s lawns, cats spraying on people’s front doors and cats fighting in the garden and also killing wildlife,” Ferguson explains.
Before the policy was introduced, the city council of Mount Barker polled residents to gather their opinions. It was discovered that:
- 76% supported cat registration
- 68% supported a two cat per house cap
- 71% supported a cat curfew
- 73% supported the council addressing cat “nuisance” behavior when it occurs
It seems that Australia has declared war on its population of feral cats, with firm plans to eradicate two million free roaming cats by 2020.
It is estimated that the total of feral cats is thought to be somewhere between 2 and 6 million. Their plan of action to do so? Well, you can read more on that here, should you wish. But basically, they’re going to use poisonous sausages to do it.
“We are not culling cats for the sake of it, we are not doing so because we hate cats…We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation.” — Gregory Andrews, National Commissioner of Threatened Species for Australia