Many people, especially those with dogs and cats, will know already that pet ownership is not cheap.
Last week's announcement that the ACT government is considering introducing a fee to register cats has already attracted considerable attention online, and it's not hard to see why.
While there are good environmental reasons for registering cats as pets, it's not immediately clear why this would need to involve a fee.
Responsible cat owners will already have spent money desexing and microchipping their pets, not to mention pet insurance to offset what can often be eye-watering vet fees should the animal develop any medical conditions.
City Services says the Draft Cat Plan is all about "improving animal welfare outcomes", and that the ACT is one of the only states and territories that doesn't require cat registration.
A spokeswoman also pointed out that dogs were already legally required to be registered, and revenue from current registration fees was used to support animal management and welfare initiatives.
"Registration may help provide better information about the number of pets that live in the ACT, including where they are housed and who owns them," she said.
"It enables lost pets to be reunited with their owner more easily and more effective enforcement of laws like cat containment."
But cat owners may well be asking whether a registration fee will be yet another expense.
While there are good environmental reasons for registering cats as pets, it's not immediately clear why this would need to involve a fee
Exactly what benefit will a registration fee serve, and will it be just another administrative burden for both cat owners and public servants?
The ACT government has taken the step of polling Canberrans on what they felt a fair annual registration fee would be.
In other jurisdictions, annual registrations ranged from between $30 to $60 a year, for desexed and microchipped cats and dogs. There is also, it must be said, the option that the registration process will not include a fee at all.
Local breeders have pointed out that cat registration will do little to reduce the numbers of feral cats in the territory, a key aim of the draft plan. While most responsible cat owners would be happy to register and pay for their animals, it's the irresponsible ones who are clearly the target of the proposed scheme.
"Creating a yearly fee isn't going to stop feral cats, it's going to come from people and pet owners being responsible or being taught to do the right thing with cats," one breeder said.
"It's not going to stop other people that don't desex their cat or keep their cats confined or abandon them.
"Having a fee won't register all cats, only those owned by pet owners."
Pet ownership is, of course, a human right with well-documented benefits for the health and wellbeing of owners. Imposing extra costs on pet owners requires clear reasoning and explanations.
The draft plan is a good way to get the conversation started, and it's heartening to see that the government is already involving the community in its decision-making.
But what, exactly, will a cat owner get in return for a registration fee? How will the funds be used? And how will the process be enforced?
The fact that registration fees are in place elsewhere in the country is not always enough. Most importantly, the proposed system risks penalising the wrong people.
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