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Cat Confinement & Legislation
Confinement of cats can create positive welfare benefits for felines, advantages for the owner and their neighbours.
Cats unable to wander are not hit by cars, attacked by dogs, tormented by humans, injured in cat fights or by other means. Neither do they kill other animals, toilet in gardens or sandpits, pick up infectious disease or "caterwaul" at night when mating or fighting.
The welfare implications of keeping cats confined are a concern for many people and have been likened to keeping wild animals in zoos - it can be done humanely with knowledge of their needs and behaviour patterns, and with a genuine willingness to meet these requirements. Ellen Jongman discusses this in "The welfare implications of confinement of cats" and Jongman 2007 Adaptation of domestic cats to confinement (abstract).
Veterinarian Robert Holmes (Practical advice for cat confinement) provides excellent advice on successful ways to confine cats including environmental and life enrichment strategies that lead to a marked reduction in anxiety and frustration. This builds on earlier papers on cat behaviour presented by Dr Holmes at the 1997 UAM Conference (Pussycat peccadilloes and Feline fabulous).
More practical advice on cat confinement is provided by Neva van der Kuyt from the Bureau of Animal Welfare (Victoria), (DIY cat proof fencing and cat enclosures) and an on line brochure with detailed plans for cat enclosures (How to build cat proof fencing and cat enclosures).
Cat registration has been enacted in some States (NSW, Vic), but has been resisted elsewhere for a range of reasons (The power of the rectrospectoscope - cat legislation: what precisely did we learn in SA? ).
Cat identification on the other hand, is in the cat and owner's interests and costs State and Local Government virtually nothing (barring promotion and enforcement).
While the reasons behind the call for cat legislation tend to be the same, different State Governments deal with the issue in different ways (Victoria cat legislation, Cat legislation in South Australia, Legislation - strategic planning for companion animals in the Australian Capital Territory, "Ban those cats" - Resolving wildlife issues in the ACT) and different local councils enact legislative powers to suit their local needs (Cat curfew - Casey City Council, No cat zone - City of Kingston, Cat confinement - does it work?, Cat pounds - Manningham City Council perspective).
Local Government finds great value in comparing their results with others in relation to legislation, enforcement and resources and results (Benchmarking Victoria - an all council view & comparison).
The introduction of cat legislation can bring with it community expectation that the provisions will be enforced, leading to increased demand on council resources and costs. However, experience in Victoria shows that it can significantly improve socially responsible pet ownership in the areas where it is carried out. (Benchmarking Victoria - an all council view & comparison)
The power of the rectrospectoscope - cat legislation: what precisely did we learn in SA?A detailed discussion of the pros and cons and experiences with cat legislation in South Australia, including issues such as registration, confinement, compulsory desexing, microchips and other forms of identification, cats and wildlife, impounding.
“Ban those cats” - Resolving wildlife issues in the ACTThe ACT governments cat management policy, how it handles, controls and manages cats, has evolved significantly over the last ten years.
Practical advice for cat confinementConfined cats live on average three time longer than those that are owned and allowed to roam.
DIY cat proof fencing and cat enclosuresAn increasing number of Victorian councils are requiring the confinement of cats to their owner's property, for a range of animal welfare, environmental and community amenity reasons.
Adaptation of domestic cats to confinement (abstract)Although most cat owners believe that cats have a need to roam outdoors and that this activity benefits their welfare, roaming also carries welfare risks for the cat.
Attitudes toward and perceptions of free-roaming cats among individuals living in OhioA great deal of attention has been given over the past two decades to manageing free-roaming cat populations
Links to all papers on this subject headingBrowse for further information on this topic
AVACCAC response: Submission to Queensland Government on the discussion paper "Managing unwanted Cats and Dogs, July 2007"
Mandatory Desexing in the ACT – has it worked?
In 2001, ACT became the first jurisdiction to make the desexing of dogs and cats compulsory by six months of age. Has it worked?
Cat Admissions to Melbourne SheltersUnderstanding the characteristics of cats entering shelters can help direct policy on how to reduce shelter euthanasia.