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ACT pet owners face heft veterinary bills for roaming cats

Snakes, cars and rival cats cost owners of roaming cats in Canberra thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Victoria Worley's female cat Purrl was bitten by a brown snake and would have died had she not spent $600 on an antivenene.

These days Ms Worley and her daughter Alice keep their four cats, Purrl, Poppy, Mandy and Bowie safe in an enclosure attached to the back of their home in Kingston. She bought the enclosure from a work colleague for $600 two years ago and it has proven to be a worthy investment.

"I wanted to protect my cats from other cats fighting with them. My cats are de-sexed, microchipped and vaccinated. We get a lot of snakes around here," Ms Worley said.

They live near Jerrabomberra Wetlands where they see plenty of native birds. Blue wrens flit about their garden too. Studies have shown cats can roam up to a kilometre into nature reserves and prey on native birds and lizards and frogs.

The ACT Conservation Council wants cat containment legislation to cover all of the ACT by 2025. Ms Worley did not want to wait that long for her enclosure.


"It has saved me in vet bills and the cats love it and it gives peace of mind," she said. "It is quite big and they are in it a lot, it goes right around to the back of the house. There is hammock for them. We put it over a door that opens to under the house, so they have all that space under the house where it's quiet and they can get in there and scratch around in the dirt."

Conservation Council ACT assistant director Briony Papps says cat containment doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. "It could be as simple as training your cat to be an indoor cat or training it to be on a lead when outside."

From surveys, mail outs, social media and at DIY workshops on building cat enclosures, the council has received overwhelming support for cat containment in Canberra.

Bunnings DIY workshops use materials ranging from metal wire to plastic netting or wooden and metal frames. The shape and size of the enclosure can change to meet specific needs, including enclosing a verandah or a simple box shape.

More workshops will be held this year.