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Feline furious: Yarra Ranges cat owners fight curfew

Date

Aisha Dow

Cat owners Joanne Huxley (left), her husband Ray and their daughter Emma.

Cat owners Joanne Huxley (left), her husband Ray and their daughter Emma. Photo: Joe Armao

A Melbourne council's decision to ban roaming cats from its streets has been met with a fierce backlash, pet owners branding the decision ''cruel'' and ''unjust''.

The Yarra Ranges council last week voted for a new policy to require cats to be confined to their owners' property at all times. The move was supported in a 234-person online poll.

But since the announcement hundreds of other residents have complained they were not consulted and have dubbed the council ''a bunch of cat-haters''.

A change.org petition calling for the permanent curfew to be abolished has received almost 900 signatures in four days, dwarfing the council's original poll. Montrose video producer Peter Brewer began the campaign after reading about the curfew for the first time in The Age.

Before the vote, proposed changes to cat and dog regulations were advertised on the council's website, community newspaper, social media and articles in the local paper.

But Mr Brewer said it was clear the message had not been received by many. He said it was ridiculous a law could be introduced after a poll of 234 people, in a municipality of 145,000.

His two cats are allowed to wander during the day, wearing their bells and a collar, before they are locked inside at night. ''I don't know how we are going to keep cats inside that have been outside all their life,'' Mr Brewer said.

The council's planning, building and health director, Andrew Paxton, said since the vote 40 letters opposing the curfew and 14 letters supporting the policy had been received.

It is also understood one councillor has since written to the change.org petition saying they did not support the curfew, but believed the council was committed to it and ''won't abolish it soon''.

In the meantime angry residents, including Nathan Rees, have taken to the council's Facebook page telling the council to ''get a grip''. ''Good luck with the 24-hour cat prison,'' Mr Rees wrote. ''How about I lock up your children in my laundry all day?''

Cat owner Sandy Lee is concerned cats could be abandoned as the result of the policy and complained about the cost of installing outdoor enclosures.

''As a renter, we can't just install outside enclosures, apart from the fact that it costs thousands people like me don't have,'' she said.

Montrose retiree Ray Huxley is upset he did not get to have his say before the policy was passed. His family had adopted an ''interloper'' cat who likes to wander outside.

The council said there would be no financial assistance to help low-income residents construct outdoor enclosures.

''However, some cat owners have been successfully confining their cats to their properties without enclosures,'' Mr Paxton said.

222 comments

  • I have a better idea. I believe the Councillors should be confined to barracks 24/7 and not allowed out to make stupid asinine laws like this one.

    Also they should be equipped with large bells around their necks so that rate payers (especially cat owners) could be warned of their approach!

    Commenter
    3217
    Date and time
    March 18, 2014, 8:03AM
    • I support Yarra Ranges council and wish my council would do the same. I have extensively planted my garden to native species and have attracted over 80 bird species to it. I am constantly chasing neighbor's cats from my yard. Why do the owners think they have the right to inflict their pets on me? Any vet will tell you that letting cats roam shortens their life as they risk injuries from fights, diseases from unvaccinated strays and death by car. If you can't afford to contain your cat during the day (or night) then you can't afford vet bills and you shouldn't have a cat. Don't get me started on dog owners!

      Commenter
      keepcatsinside
      Location
      Hamilton
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 8:21AM
    • 3217,

      So, when you are surrounded by humans and domestic pets only, will you be happy?

      We wake up to the kookaburras, have finches tapping our windows, parrots visit regularly, frogs try and keep us awake. A Wonga pigeon makes its annual pilgrimage to our place. Have you ever seen a Wonga pigeon, 3217? Easier pickings for a cat I doubt exists. Luckily there are no cat owners inflicting their selfish, destructive beliefs on our area.

      Commenter
      Wal
      Location
      Bush
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 8:36AM
    • As a cat owner, I agree with this ban. Cats should not be allowed to roam and kill native wildlife. It is not that difficult to keep a cat indoors at night.

      Commenter
      cagey
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 8:45AM
    • That furry, cuddly, warm, purring thing that sits cozily in your lap is actually a ferocious, efficient, destructive killer. It creates absolute mayhem and devastation amongst native and other wildlife but cat owners remain in steadfast denial so they don't have to confront the reality about the true character of their beloved pet. They are much more destructive than dogs because of their speed, stealth and agility. And they're much more blood thirsty. No amount of rationalization can change that.

      I sincerely hope that the council remain resolute in the face of noisy protests of a minority of cat owning ratepayers who, because this affects them more directly than those who don't own cats, will be disproportionately more active than the rest. A poll of 234 in a population of 145,000 is not a bad sampling, provided it was done randomly. It is certainly a far better guide than simply assessing the noise levels of those opposed to this long overdue law.

      Commenter
      DJS
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 8:47AM
    • @ keepcatsinside

      "Any vet will tell you that letting cats roam shortens their life as they risk injuries from fights, diseases from unvaccinated strays and death by car."

      Our vet told us that it's good for our cat to go out during the day, so she can get some exercise. She's vaccinated against the relevant diseases, and is smart enough to hate cars, so always avoids the road. What would be more likely to shorten her life would be obesity and boredom as a result of spending all day stuck inside.

      "If you can't afford to contain your cat during the day (or night) then you can't afford vet bills and you shouldn't have a cat."

      Utter bollocks. Our cat wants for nothing, leave alone her medical care. I think it's really sad that you'd advocate a life of imprisonment on poor little moggies - don't they have the right to sunshine and exercise like other animals? Shouldn't they get a chance to climb trees, meet other cats, and sun themselves on the brick walls? Wait - why am I asking - you clearly have no empathy for domestic animals or their owners. You appear to have forgotten that you live in a community, and as such you'll occasionally have to put up with things you don't personally endorse, be that cats, cars, young children, leaf blowers... or cranky neighbours who like to interfere in other people's business.

      Commenter
      Red Pony
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 8:59AM
    • Hey keepcatsinside
      "Don't get me started on dog owners!"

      Oh go on.

      Commenter
      Woof Meow
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 9:03AM
    • If you are going to nail your colors to the mast of wildlife protection, then the best thing to show your true commitment is to move out of suburbia and become a vegan, because habitat destruction by human demand for living space and farm land is the greatest threat to wildlife. That quarter acre block you are living on was probably once teeming with life, but now is basically just a reserve for 3 or 4 human beings. If only that scorched earth policy allowed some wildlife to survive instead of just a neat lawn.Well fed cats wreak little destruction compared to human beings.

      Commenter
      Hypocrite Hater
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 9:08AM
    • I live in the affected area and I own a cat!! I fully support this move, it is the least we can do after so much native destruction. If you notice the opposing cat owners arguments they are not rational and simply state that they cant be bothered keeping their cats in their own property, cant afford a cage, think that their cats lifestyle is more important than that of native animals, don't care and the worst argument of all is 'but my cat is different' - GRRRRRR. Well suck it up opposing cat owners, you have had it good for a long time and the more behavioral changes we make on how we live in this ecosystem the better.

      Commenter
      good stuff
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 9:37AM
    • Councillors should be confined to barracks 24/7 and not allowed out to make stupid asinine laws like this one. Also they should be equipped with large bells around their necks so that rate payers (especially cat owners) could be warned of their approach!

      I'd extend that to cover **ALL** officialdom whether elected or otherwise.

      Commenter
      Troglodyte
      Location
      Cave Nine
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 9:38AM

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