All cats within the Surf Coast Shire will need to be confined to their owner’s premises from 30 September 2023, under a 24-hour cat curfew adopted by Council.
Surf Coast Shire Council adopted the revised cat curfew – formally known as a cat confinement order – at its March Council meeting. The curfew requires all cats within the municipality to be confined at all times to the owner’s premises unless the cat is appropriately restrained.
By confining registered cats in both urban and rural zones to their owner’s premises, the 24-hour curfew is likely to reduce cats’ impact on neighbours and their pets, and wildlife.
Councillor Kate Gazzard said the revised curfew enables Council to promote responsible pet ownership – a priority of its Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) 2022-25.
“During the DAMP community engagement in 2021, we heard that cats harming wildlife was one of the three biggest concerns from the 734 survey respondents,” Cr Gazzard said. “We also heard that 55% of respondents said they would like a 24-hour cat curfew in both rural and urban areas to minimise trespassing by cats and to help protect the native wildlife, particularly birds.
“As a result, the DAMP identified an action to investigate and make recommendations regarding extending the cat confinement order.”
Council carried out further consultation in 2022, underpinned by the ‘Cattitude’ survey. It welcomed 684 responses, and found there was support for a stricter cat curfew.
“As well as helping prevent harm to wildlife, cat curfews improve the health and safety of cats,” Cr Gazzard said. “A cat curfew can prevent injuries that can occur through fights with other cats, being run over by a vehicle, eating toxic plants or poisons, or from wandering onto neighbouring households where they could cause a nuisance.”
The 24-hour curfew will replace the current one, which requires cats in urban-zoned areas to be securely confined to the owner’s premises between 8pm and 6am.
“Council will support urban and rural cat owners over the next six months by promoting resources on how to make modifications to their property and their cat’s behaviour, so that they can comply with the 24-hour cat curfew,” Cr Gazzard said. “Pet owners with registered cats in our database will receive email updates, and information sessions will be held in Anglesea, Torquay and Winchelsea.
“Given there was already a legal requirement that cats are not allowed to trespass on other people’s property, the six-month transition period should be enough time to prepare.”