A night time cat curfew will be introduced in Monash next year with a survey revealing majority community support for the plan.
The survey attracted 680 responses with 75 per cent of respondents supporting a curfew for cats.
All registered cat owners received a letter inviting them to take part in the online survey (a hard copy survey was available on request).
Council also invited Friends of Damper Creek, Friends of Scotchmans Creek, the RSPCA and the South Oakleigh Wildlife Shelter to respond.
The curfew, which will be between sunset or 7pm (whichever is the latter) and sunrise, was originally set to be introduced at the end of 2020.
Council decided at its May 2020 meeting to hold off introduction of a cat curfew until April 2021, when pet registrations are due.
In the interim period, given a specific question about a cat curfew had not been directly asked as part of the previous consultation, particularly to registered cat owners in Monash, Council believed it was important to further consult with the community, including registered cat owners and wildlife groups.
The most common reason survey respondents supported a curfew was to help reduce nuisance caused by cats and to protect wildlife and impact on the environment.
Survey responses also found:
- 96 per cent of non-cat owners support a night time curfew
- The majority of cat owners (61 per cent) who responded also supported the proposed curfew
- Most cat owners (73 per cent) already kept their cats in at night
- Those who opposed a cat curfew believed it was hard to contain cats at night.
Mayor Stuart James said the survey gave Council a clear message that there was community support for a cat curfew.
“Though previous consultation in 2017 showed sentiment towards more education about keeping cats in at night and concerns about nuisance cats, a specific question about a curfew had not been directly asked, particularly to registered cat owners in Monash. That’s why we decided to go back to our community to ask them their views,” Cr James said.
“A cat curfew is a measure that sends a message about responsible pet ownership, which we know matters to our community and I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this survey.
“We’re hoping that through a heightened awareness of the cat curfew and the benefits of keeping cats in at night, owners will comply because it’s good for wildlife and the best thing for their pets.”
Pet owners can be fined $165 for a first offence if their cat is found outside their contained property during the hours of the curfew and $495 for second or subsequent offences.
However, Council will be using an education process when responding to complaints, with infringements seen as a last resort.