Local cat law kicked down road

AT LAST month’s council meeting elected members voted on adopting the Shire of Toodyay Cat Local Law 2024. The officer’s recommendation was that council adopt the law the purpose of which is to improve the permit conditions, definitions of nuisance behaviour, modification of penalties, and to continue to provide the Shire of Toodyay with measures in addition to those under the Cat Act 2011 to control the keeping of cats.

The matter was debated with Cr Madacsi proposing an alternate motion that the item be deferred because due to other pressing matters the local laws had not been given enough attention.

The officers recommendation was not supported and Cr Madacsi’s alternate motion was endorsed,7-0.

The adoption of the proposed law is to be deferred to be brought back to council within three months – allowing councillors time to consider the matter.

Cr Adin Lang from the City of Fremantle who has championed tougher cat laws in the Perth metropolitan area has welcomed the pause and said, “The deferral presents an opportunity for Toodyay that must be taken to adopt a local cat law more fitting for their location and perhaps more in line with their
neighbours in Northam”.

He added that Northam has one of the most robust cat laws in Western Australia which states, in part, “a cat shall not be in a public place unless it is under effective control”.

Cr Lang suggested that Toodyay can replicate the Northam law, “via a simplecopy-and-paste and lead the way for all other local governments.”

The proposed Toodyay Cat Law references prohibited areas – and if a cat is in a prohibited area the owner commits an offence. Prohibited areas around Toodyay include Pelham and Coondle Reserves.

“Prohibited Areas are not enough to stop roaming cats, we know domestic cats are still roaming the streets and being caught in Prohibited Areas; to make real change, the Northam law needs to be followed,” said Cr Lang.

In country towns and rural settings , there is a lot less distance between where we find pet, stray and feral cats.

According to Dr Bruce Webber, Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO , “Allowing pet cats to roam in these regions increases the risk that they will contribute to the significant problem that is controlling feral cats in Western Australia.”

Pet cats that roam are also at a much greater risk of catching diseases and injury or death from snake bite, vehicle strike or dog attacks

Research by the Australian National University conducted for the Biodiversity Council, Invasive Species Council and Birdlife Australia showed that 71 per cent of pet cats in Australia are able to roam and
that 78 per cent of those cats hunted.

It also showed that those cats did not bring home 85 per cent of the animals they killed.

There are now more than 5.3 million pet cats in Australia that bring great pleasure to their owners; however, Australia also has around 2.1 million feral cats and 700,000 stray cats.