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Being a cat owner is enjoyable and rewarding however brings with it responsibilities.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your cat is happy and healthy and is not negatively impacting the community in any way.
An ACT study revealed domestic cats are responsible for killing a total of 67 different species of birds and animals. You can reduce the risk to native wildlife by keeping your cat indoors, particularly between sunset and sunrise and by putting a bell on your cat's collar to provide a warning to other animals.
Cat containment areas in the ACT
A cat containment area can be declared in a suburb, or area of a suburb, if there is a serious nature conservation threat as a result of cat activities. The ACT Government pursuant to Section 81 of the Domestic Animals Act 2000, has declared the following areas to be cat containment areas:
- Denman Prospect
- Gungahlin Town Centre east
- The Fair at Watson
A map showing cat containment areas is also available. Residents within cat containment areas are required to keep their cats confined to their premises at all times.
How do I contain my cat?
There are a number of ways cats can be kept to their owner's premises and still be able to explore. Cats can be kept indoors or go outdoors in a purpose built enclosure which allows them to explore the outdoors without the risk of roaming. Here are just a few examples of what a purpose built cat enclosure can look like:
Why contain my cat?
Cats are natural predators and domestic cats have been shown to hunt and kill a wide variety of native and non-native wildlife in our region, as found in an ACT study. Many Canberra suburbs are close to nature reserves, areas set up to protect native wildlife. Allowing cats to wander away from their home brings them into these protected areas where they can prey on small birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
The benefits of cat containment are not only felt by our native wildlife. Cats are very adaptable creatures and respond well to being contained. The risk of injury faced by wandering cats (fights with other cats, traffic risks) is avoided.
Cat containment symbol
The cat containment symbol is used to remind people in cat containment areas their cat must be contained at all times.
What If I live in a containment area and don't contain my cat?
TAMS' Rangers are able to seize cats found in a declared area. An infringement notice of up to $1,500 can be issued to the keeper or carer of a cat that is not complying with the cat containment requirements.
Frequently asked questions
What is a cat containment area?
A cat containment area refers to a suburb, or part of, where cats must be confined to their keeper's or carer's premises at all times.
What are my responsibilities as a cat owner in a containment area?
As a cat owner living in a containment area, it is your responsibility to ensure your cat remains within your premises at all times so that it cannot roam. This does not necessarily mean it needs to stay inside your home. Many cat owners have cat runs which are outdoor areas where cats can be contained.
How do I contain my cat?
Cats can be contained to the premises in a number of ways, including by keeping them indoors or by using a purpose built cat run that provides adequate shelter and access to an outdoor area.
What's the purpose of cat containment?
Cat containment aims to protect native wildlife in areas where cats pose a serious threat and has been implemented in some of Canberra's newer suburbs.
Does cat containment have any other benefits?
Yes. A 2011 study showed contained cats live longer and are less likely to suffer diseases or sustain injuries through fighting with other cats or dogs, misadventure or being hit by cars.
Will other suburbs be declared in the future?
It is anticipated that other new suburbs will be declared in the future. These are suburbs where the presence of cats could likely to be a serious threat to native flora and fauna in the area.
What other suburbs are being considered?
Other new suburbs in Gungahlin and Molonglo Valley are likely to be declared in the future, consistent with the Molonglo Valley Plan for the Protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance (the NES Plan) and the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment Biodiversity Plan (PDF 1.3MB).
What if I don't contain my cat?
Cat owners found not complying with cat containment legislation in a declared area may be issued a penalty of up to $1,500.
What should I do if I see a cat roaming in a cat containment area?
Domestic Animal Services (DAS) is responsible for administration and regulation of the Domestic Animals Act 2000 including cat containment compliance and enforcement. If you observe a roaming cat in a cat containment area you can contact DAS for advice by email or on 13 22 81. Please be aware that DAS responds to a number of domestic animal matters and respond to matters in order of priority (i.e. aggressive dogs and dog attacks being more urgent). As such, a DAS ranger may not be able to respond immediately to your concerns regarding a roaming cat.
Cats are notoriously difficult to catch and rangers often attend call outs where the animal has since left the area and cannot be located. To assist, you may be able to provide the details of the owner or a description of the cat. Alternatively, if you feel comfortable doing so you may wish to raise the issue with the owner of the cat.