Cat reforms to protect wildlife

Improved protection for wildlife, fewer feral cats roaming the bush and streets and better controls for the Council’s Animal Control Department are targets set by Hornsby Council following years of feral cats episodes.

Council voted unanimously to give the go-ahead to Councillor Nathan Tilbury’s raft of measures including subsidising de-sexing and microchipping domestic cats and educating people living close to wildlife protection areas on the importance of responsible cat ownership.

Streamlining the animal registration system to make it easier to register pets and implementing an education strategy detailing the benefits of cat microchipping, registration, de-sexing and containment are also amongt the list of proposals.

Most controversial though is Council writing to the state government asking its permission to enforce cats staying in their own backyards, 24 hours a day.

“The measures will mean improved protection for  both native wildlife in the Bushland Shire and for pet cats,” he said. “We also want to make it easier for Hornsby Shire residents to register, de-sex and microchip their pet cats, and to give Hornsby Council’s Animal Control department more resources and access to best practice.

“The aim is to reduce the alarming number of feral and stray cats in our Shire by not only taking feral cats out but also stopping more cats going into the environment.”

Hornsby is also writing to the state government asking for permission to introduce laws making it compulsory to keep domestic cats within the confines of owners’ backyards 24 hours a day. It needs their agreement to reform the Hornsby LGA under the NSW Animals Companion Act.

“I have seen owners install cat enclosures for about $400 which keeps them in and gives them space to roam around,” he added. “Or the Cat Protection Society recommends a device which goes on top of the fence to stop the cat jumping over it.”

Registration is a big issue. Sutherland Shire Council has the highest rate of registration in the state, attributed in part to cat owners receiving persistent texts and follow-up fines if they fail to register their domestic cat.

A report is expected to go back before Council in October with the state government’s response as well as a plan on implementing the measures.

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