Cat Curfew


Cat owners have until 1 July 2023 to prepare for the 24-hour cat curfew. Following this date fines may be issued for wandering cats.

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About the 24-hour cat curfew

Following extensive community engagement, a 24-hour cat curfew is now in place throughout Wellington Shire. The Council Order was made at the 20 December 2022 Council Meeting, and advertised as per the Local Government Act on 19 January 2023.

What does the cat curfew mean?

The cat curfew requires all cat owners ensure their cats are always confined to their property. This can be achieved by installing a simple outdoor cat enclosure or keeping your cat inside.

What happens next?

We recognise that the cat curfew order could have a significant impact on some cat owners, and as such we are offering a six-month amnesty, whereby registered cats found wandering from their property will be returned to their owners wherever possible, and without any penalty applied.

From 1 July 2023 enforcement activities will commence, in line with the process already applied for wandering dogs. This process is as follows:

  • First occurrence: wherever possible the cat will be returned to its registered owner
  • Second occurrence: cat returned and warning issued
  • Third occurrence: cat impounded and/or infringement issued

From 1 July 2023, penalties for a breach of this curfew range from $192.00 for the first offence, and $577.00 for second or subsequent offences.

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Why a 24-hour cat curfew?

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 requires all dogs to be confined to their owner’s property unless under effective control, however it is up to individual councils to determine confinement rules for cats.

Following adoption of Council’s 2021-2025 Domestic Animal Plan (DAM Plan), Council engaged in community consultation regarding a proposed 24-hour cat curfew. 1,628 residents responded to the survey with 68% supporting a 24-hour curfew, meaning cats must always be confined to their properties, much the same as what is required of dog owners.

While cats are very popular pets, roaming cats are a serious concern. Wandering cats can and do:

  • Kill native wildlife (even well-fed cats will hunt).
  • Get hit by vehicles.
  • Become injured in fights.
  • Annoy neighbours by spraying, fighting, yowling, and digging in gardens.
  • Become lost/impounded.

It is well-established that contained cats have a higher life expectancy than cats that are allowed to wander. Contained cats are protected from disease, car accidents, fights and getting lost.

Council recognises that the cat curfew order could have a significant impact on some cat owners and as such has decided on a six-month amnesty, whereby registered cats found wandering will be returned to their owners wherever possible during the amnesty period without any penalty applied.

There are a number of websites on the internet providing information on how to build, or where to purchase cat enclosures.

Please see the YouTube videos below for inspiration to help you build a cat enclosure:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I keep my cat on my property?

Keep your cat enclosed by doing-it-yourself and installing cat proof fencing or adding a cat enclosure to your house or shed. Or keep your best buddy inside.

Is it cruel to stop cats from wandering?

Not at all, cats don’t need to roam to live a healthy life. If their basic needs are met, cats will enjoy long and healthy lives.

What will happen if my cat is caught off my property?

It’s important that you register your cat with Council so it can be returned home.

Council will always try to return a lost cat to its home by checking if it’s registered and has microchip details. If the owner can’t be reached, it will be taken to Animal Aid – Council’s animal shelter in Sale.

Once there, the wonderful team at Animal Aid will try to track down the owners or find the cat a new family as soon as they can.

If a cat is taken to the animal shelter, there will be a fee to organise its release. Fees depend on whether the cat was registered or desexed when it was found.

Find out more about registering your cat by clicking on the button below.

What should I do if I don’t own a cat, but one is causing a nuisance on my property?

If you find a nuisance cat on your property you should always try to talk to the owner.

If you try this and can’t resolve the issue, you can use a box or carrier to secure the cat and drop it off to Animal Aid in Sale. You can also contact Council to collect the cat for you.

Find out more about wandering and stray cats by clicking on the button below.

There is no such thing as a 'working' or 'farm cat'

Farmers or people who own large rural properties may own cats that are generally not microchipped, registered or desexed. Often these cats are left abandoned and may be referred to as 'working cats'. It is important that you know that there is no such thing as a 'working cat', all cats are included in Council's Domestic Animal Management Plan and are part of the 24-hour cat curfew.

It is exactly these types of unmanaged cats that contribute most to stray and feral cat problems. All cats, including those referred to as 'working cats' are included in the 24-hour cat curfew. If you live on property and treat your cat like a working cat you are required to effectively constrain it before 1 July 2023. Helpful resources are available via Animal Welfare Victoria here.

All cats must be registered, microchipped, desexed and kept safe, in line with the 24-hour cat curfew.

Should cats be used for rodent control for farms or businesses?

There is no current evidence that suggests that cats have significant control over rats and mice. Any cat that hunts rats and mice will also kill native animals, impacting local biodiversity. Protecting biodiversity in Wellington Shire is a key outcome of the 24-hour cat curfew.

Pet cats that are allowed to roam and hunt can kill 186 animals (mammals, birds and reptiles) each year, 115 native species. Farm cats or 'working cats' are at increased risk of becoming stray or feral if not confined under the 24-hour cat curfew.

Learn more about the 3 types of cats

Cat curfew FAQs with local vet Terri Allen

Tips for keeping your cat contained and happy

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