The subject of cat containment is being considered by the ACT Government including community comments on a draft cat plan.
According to the Draft ACT Cat Plan 2019-29, the expansion of cat containment is an objective the ACT Government has committed to investigate, including options for enlarging the containment areas. The plan also includes a review of definitions of cat containment in legislation to allow cats to be contained “on leash.”
“Any potential changes to relevant legislation will be made in the best interests of the domesticated animals and the ACT’s broader natural environment,” said a Transport Canberra and City Services spokesperson.
According to RSPCA ACT CEO, Michelle Robertson, keeping cats contained day or night keeps them and native wildlife safe.
“Keeping cats inside reduces the risk of them getting sick, being hurt or dying in an accident, reduces the risk of strays, minimises the potential or harming or killing other animals and gives them the better chance to enjoy a longer, healthier life,” she said.
Ms Robertson explained where options are limited for the pet owner and the cat is happy to be walked on a harness, outdoor exercise using a harness will meet the cat’s specific needs. However, there are some risks.
“Cats do not behave the same as dogs on a lead,” she said.
“Walking outdoors can expose cats to unfamiliar scents they find threatening, expose them to frightening experiences including dogs, strange people, loud noises and cars…When alarmed, most cats will likely attempt to flee.”
“If collars and incorrect harnesses are used, cats can easily slip out or may choke if they escape and become entangled.”
Where possible, RSPCA ACT recommends providing your cat with a cat-proof enclosure or enclosed yard with cat-proof fencing. Creating a secure outdoor area that is both escape-proof and animal-proof can allow the cat to choose where they spend their time.
“Cats will still need plenty of enrichment, scratching posts, food and water as well as protection from weather to ensure they are kept safe and healthy,” she said.
“The main things your cat needs to keep them happy and healthy are choice and variety in these five basic resources: resting and hiding places, food, water, toileting areas and places to scratch. All you have to do is offer more than one choice for each resource, then let your cat decide for him or herself.”
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