5,000 signatures reached
To: New South Wales State MPs
Confine Domestic Cats in New South Wales
By signing this petition you will send a message to NSW state politicians that you would like a law that prohibits domestic cat owners from letting their cats roam outside the boundaries of the cat owner's property.
Why is this important?
Currently in New South Wales, your neighbor's cat can come onto your property and even into your house at any time of the day or night; defecate in your flower garden, vegetable patch or child’s sand box; spray your plants and walls, and scare and kill the native wildlife in your garden.
To an ordinary person, any cat doing any of these things would be deemed a “nuisance.” But NSW has a much narrower legal definition of a nuisance cat. NSW law considers a cat a “nuisance” only if it “makes a noise that persistently occurs or continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises, or “repeatedly damages anything outside the property on which it is ordinarily kept” (Companion Animals Act 1998, Sec. 31) (emphasis added). The burden of proof is on you. Only if you can prove one of these highly subjective offences, can your local council make a “nuisance cat” declaration and act.
But it is highly unlikely an ordinary citizen could prove either of these two definitions of a nuisance cat to a court’s satisfaction. In all cases, the offences would be fleeting and/or occur at night. Complainants would have to have audio or photographic evidence. Audio evidence, most likely available only at night, would have to be certified as to time and place, and be precise as to identify the cat. Photographic evidence would have to be unequivocal as to location (the complainant’s property).
These problems make it almost impossible to provide the evidence necessary to meet the current definition of a nuisance cat. “Prove it was my cat!” “Prove it was on your property!” In effect, therefore, offended owners have no practical recourse to stop a cat coming onto their property and doing whatever it likes. The current law is ineffective, and ineffective law is bad law.
There are two reasons why there is no effective control of roaming cats. First, it is thought to be cruel or “unnatural.” Second, it is an unreasonable inconvenience to cat owners.
As to cruelty, the RSPCA recommends that Australia move to 24 hour-containment of domestic cats (https://kb.rspca.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Identifying-Best-Practice-Domestic-Cat-Management-in-Australia-RSPCA-Research-Report-May-2018.pdf). Further, when a well-fed domestic cat kills wildlife, arguably, its owner perpetrates a preventable and unnecessary act of animal cruelty through the agency of their cat. Research suggests that pet cats in Australia kill up to 230 million native animals per year.
As to confinement being an inconvenience to a cat’s owner, this is no greater than the frustration and anger at the loss of amenity for the neighbouring householders who like their gardens and love their wildlife and are told they just have to “live with it.” And one cat can impact many properties. Radio-tracking shows that domestic cats routinely roam across three or four neighbouring yards, with occasional forays two or three times this distance and into adjacent bushland.
Twenty-seven percent of Australia households have cats, and 14 percent of households let their cats roam. Why should the 86 percent of non-cat and responsible-cat households have to pander to this “don’t-care” minority?
There are three ways cats can be kept from roaming: keep them indoors; put them on a tether when outdoors, or keep them in a cat run. All these restraints are sanctioned by animal welfare legislation, and responsible owners already use them. Indeed, many cats are kept indoors their entire lives.
No other domestic animal is allowed to roam freely through our neighborhoods, so why should domestic cats?