Cat curfew review under way as community input is sought

Cat curfew review under way as community input is sought
Brendan Rees

Community consultation on whether a 24-hour ban or night-time cat curfew should be implemented within the City of Melbourne will be launched later this year.

The council is considering introducing a ban on cats roaming outside their homes to ensure their safety and protect local wildlife, which could affect nearly 4000 households across the municipality.

The proposal was raised at a council meeting last October in a motion successfully moved by councillor Dr Olivia Ball, who said a containment law had many benefits including protecting cats from injury, disease, dog attacks, snake bites, poisoning, road accident trauma or other misadventures.

In response to the motion, councillors voted unanimously at their March 19 Future Melbourne Committee meeting to integrate cat containment into the community consultation activities already planned for July this year on the mandatory desexing of cats under the Domestic Animals Act 1994.

Council management will also work with Animal Welfare Victoria and the Australian Veterinary Association to undertake a review of cat containment measures in Victoria.

According to the council, the Domestic Animals Act prohibits cats from being on private property without permission.

“In public places, cats are currently not collected or impounded due to health and safety risks,” it said.

“Cat traps are not left in public places due to the risk of capturing animals other than cats.”

The reported also noted as of February 2024, there were 3980 cats registered in the City of Melbourne with 74 per cent registered to apartments and 103 cats not desexed.


In 2023 the council received 103 reports of roaming cats, most of these were reported in North Melbourne, Kensington and West Melbourne where there are known unowned or semi-owned cat colonies, the report said.


Michael Johnston, a research scientist who specialises in the management of feral cats, addressed the council meeting saying, “the two main points I’d like you to consider is animal welfare responsibilities and responsibilities of landowners to look after their pet so that their pet can live a longer happier life”.

“I’m requesting that Melbourne City Council provides some deep consideration on whether this will be a good fit for them,” he said.

“The reasons why you might like to consider it are more around improving the animal welfare impacts for domestic cats themselves but also wildlife species that inhabit the area.”

According to the council, it can make orders under the Act requiring all domestic cats to be confined to the property of their owner and prohibiting domestic cats from environmentally sensitive areas but noted “further work is required to understand community sentiment or the likely effectiveness of the implementation of such orders”.

Cr Dr Ball referred to two statistics; one being that council officers found a dead cat on average once a month in the municipality, and the other was that the Westgate Park boasted 168 different species of birds and “it’s clearly not a place where cats should be”.

Between 2020 and 2021 the council impounded 355 cats, a jump of 62 per cent between 2016 and 2017 when 219 cats were found wandering the streets.

A report will come back to council in March 2025 with an update and advice on the role of cat containment in council’s next Domestic Animal Management Plan in December 2025. •

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