1. What legal responsibility does my Council have in relation to cat management?
Under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, Councils may appoint officers who have the authority to seize, detain or destroy unidentified cats in their council area. Authorised officers can receive unidentified cats seized by the public.
Councils can introduce by-laws for the management of cats. Individual Councils publish information relating to their by-laws on their website.
A template Cat By-law has been developed by the Dog and Cat Management Board and the Local Government Association of South Australia.
The template By-law contains suggested clauses to deal with:
Councils may also choose to introduce a registration system for cats.
A Guide to Preparing a Cat By-law has be produced to assist Councils through the process of community consultation and deciding which of the clauses in the template By-law are appropriate for their local area.
In the absence of a Cat By-law, councils may deal with nuisance animal incidents under the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.
2. Is it OK to keep a cat confined indoors?
Just as dogs must be confined to their owner’s property there is increasing demand within the community that cat owners should confine their pets within their property. Contrary to common belief, cats do not have to roam outdoors to be happy.
If you keep your cat entertained by creating an interesting and stimulating environment which fulfils its physical, mental and social needs, it will be happy to stay within the confines of your property. For your pet to have the best of both worlds, the ideal solution is to provide an enclosed outdoor area which has access to the indoor dwelling. The Dog and Cat Management Board publishes the helpful booklet Good Cats Play At Home which provides advice and information about keeping your cat contained within your property.
3. How can I prevent cats coming into my yard?
If you know the identity of the cat owner, you should approach them in a friendly and constructive manner to discuss the issues. It is recommended that you contact your Local Council to ascertain whether they have a cat management by-law and are able to assist. There are also a number of herbal, chemical and visual deterrents available which have been used with varying degrees of success to deter un-invited cats.
4. What are my legal rights in relation to a nuisance cat?
Many local Councils have a Cat By-law in place and this by-law may include an offence relating to nuisance cats. It is therefore a good idea to contact your Council to ascertain whether they have a cat management by-law implemented. Councils also publish this information on their websites or in their plan of management relating to dogs and cats.
Members of the public are legally permitted to trap unidentified cats, provided that, within 12 hours, they take it to the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League or (if they are willing) a Vet. Your local council may also have also nominated a facility in your area. Members of the public may not seize or detain a cat that is identified (eg has an identity tag).
Many councils offer a cat trap hire service.
5. How do I access subsidies in relation to desexing my cat?
The National Desexing Network has a low cost desexing application and a directory of participating vets in South Australia. http://www.ndn.org.au/apply-for-low-cost-desexing.html
Councils with cat registration may offer a registration discount for desexed cats.
6. How can I protect native wildlife and still own a cat?
There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the effect your cat may have on local wildlife. These include:
7. What can I do about stray or homeless cats in my neighbourhood?
Unknowingly, well intentioned people may contribute to increases in the homeless cat problem by feeding a local stray cat. Providing food maintains homeless cats in a fertile condition enabling females to breed more often producing more homeless cats. Homeless cats generally experience a poor quality of life and are prone to malnutrition, infection and disease, including Feline Aids, which is often spread to owned cats.
If you do have stray cats in your neighbourhood, property owners are legally permitted to trap cats and take them to their local council, vet or animal shelter. The cat will then be assessed in terms of condition, temperament and injury and a decision made in relation to its suitability for re-homing. Identified cats or cats that are obviously owned must be returned to their owner or released where they were found.
Many Local Councils provide assistance in relation to the trapping of cats.
8. Do cats have to be identified by law?
As of 1 July 2018, all cats must be microchipped and their details saved on www.dogsandcatsonline.com.au.