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Canberra Today -1°/-1° | Monday, September 20, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Containing cats and protecting wildlife at heart of new ACT plan

THE RSPCA has given its approval to accelerate restrictions on the movement of cats in every suburb to ensure that Canberra’s environment remains protected. 

The revised ACT Cat Plan that includes eight strategies being rolled out progressively over the next decade also involves both new cats being locked up in containment areas and also the introduction of annual registrations from July 1 next year.

Grandfathering arrangements where their owners do not live in an identified suburb will apply for cats owned before the date, exempting the pets from compulsory containment.

But newly-built Canberra suburbs will continue to be declared a full-cat containment area.

Outside of the areas, older cats will be spared in a compromise to strike the right balance.

Cat owners will also be asked to pay a one-off $57 fee under ACT government amendments and to update details at no additional cost, mirroring recent registration practices for dogs.

ACT RSPCA chief executive Michelle Robertson, who took part during talks with cat owners, environmental groups and the government, backed the plan that promises to save native wildlife.

“RSPCA ACT welcomes a coordinated approach to cat containment across the territory,” Ms Robertson said.

“We look forward to working with the government to implement the plan to improve cat welfare and protect native wildlife.

“We also look forward to working with the community to increase responsible cat ownership and improve cat and human wellbeing.”

Both Labor and the Greens in government have agreed to the wide-ranging plan to reduce the impact of cats outside of the backyard.

Government data have found that Canberra cats prey on 61,000 native birds, 2,000 native mammals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6,000 native frogs.

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said the plan is to minimise the impacts of domestic cats by reducing the number of feral, unowned and semi-owned cats through a greater de-sexing plan, improved domestic cat welfare and better management practices.

“While cats are a popular household pet in Canberra and an invaluable companion animal in many households, they are also predators that have natural hunting and chasing instincts,” Ms Vassarotti said.

The government want to progress legislative changes required to implement its key aspects of the 2021-2031 plan that will include amendments to allow all owners in cat containment suburbs to walk their cat on a lead, which currently remains prohibited.

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Andrew Mathieson

Andrew Mathieson

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