Responsible cat ownership requires education plus regulation

On 28 February 2018 I was pleased to speak at the launch of Kingborough Council's 'Inside with cats' video series. There are five short videos each telling a personal story of why a cat owner has decided to contain their cat and what the benefits are for them and their cat.

There is a crucial need for high quality education such as these videos plus complimentary legislation to encourage high levels of responsible cat ownership. My talk regarding the proposed amendments to the Cat Management Act is included in full below and you can view the five videos via the link.

Cat Management Act

In 2017 the Tasmanian  Government proposed to make a series of important amendments to the Cat Management Act, including: introducing a penalty for having an un-desexed cat at large; provisions to limit the number of cats that can be owned (to help address hoarding); clarifying the powers of cat holding facilities; and most controversially, a phase-in of compulsory cat containment.

These changes were scheduled to be introduced to parliament in July 2017 but the government quietly abandon all the changes, making no public announcement. We understand that a small group of cat owners lobbied against compulsory cat containment and the government wanted to avoid public criticism, at least prior to the election.

The legislation was abandoned despite the TCT and other groups lobbying the government that the impact on cat owners could be fairly addressed through having a phase-in period of several years, providing assistance for people to contain cats and guaranteeing that no cat could be euthanased the first time it strayed. We also pointed out that there was strong support in the community for cat control and it is likely to grow with responsible cat ownership education programs being ramped-up.

At the end of 2016 the TCT ran an online survey that found that 92.1% of non-cat owners and 46.2% cat owners surveyed supported compulsory confinement of cats.  Surprisingly, 48.0% of cat owners reported that they already confine their cats all the time and 33.5% only at night. With education programs such as the 'Inside with cats' and the extensive program being run by Ten Lives Cat Centre we can be confident that support for compulsory confinement will grow.

But the Tasmanian Government was not convinced and abandoned all proposed changes to the Cat Management Act, most of which did not relate to cat confinement. It was probably worried about attracting criticism leading up to the election.

So the positive news is that I am confident that who ever forms our next government will introduce the legislation to make cat containment compulsory. The government will have four years to convince people to support these measures before the next election.

Legislative measures compliment education programs. In particular there will probably be a small minority of cat owners who wont confine their cats unless it becomes a legal requirement and they should face a penalty for refusing to comply.

Peter McGlone
0406 380 545