Monash Council decided to undertake further consultation on the introduction of a night time cat curfew (sunset to sunrise) with the community, including affected registered cat owners, and local Friends groups. Consultation closed on Thursday 30 July 2020.
The introduction of a cat curfew in Monash is something Council has been considering for some time as a mechanism to ensure cats are kept safely indoors at night not only for their own safety and wellbeing but also to protect native wildlife and vegetation.
The introduction of a cat curfew will make it an offence for cat owners to allow their cats to roam at night. However, curfews are difficult to enforce and it is intended that through heightened awareness of the curfew and a willingness to comply with a legal control, keeping cats safely indoors at night may become everyday behaviour rather than Council actively enforcing a curfew. However, cat owners who repeatedly breach a curfew following education and warnings, can risk receiving a fine.
Council had received numerous cat complaints for some years, as well as requests for a cat curfew, which had further prompted Council to consider the matter, but between 2012 and 2016, there was a 90% reduction in cat nuisance complaints to Council.
Between June and September 2017 Council consulted on its Domestic Animal Management Plan (2017-2021) and did not include specific questions about a cat curfew but did ask about nuisance cats. An overwhelming number of respondents supported a proposition for an education campaign to keep cats indoors at night. Additionally, a number of respondents supported going further and introducing a cat curfew.
The curfew was included in the final Domestic Animal Management Plan that went to Council.
At Council’s October 2017 meeting, an amendment was moved to remove the cat curfew. Four supported removing the curfew and five did not, with one Councillor abstaining and one Councillor absent. The Domestic Animal Management Plan, including the introduction of a cat curfew in December 2020, was then passed 7-3.
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, given a specific question about a cat curfew has not been directly asked as part of the previous consultation, particularly to registered cat owners in Monash, Council has now determined to hold off on the introduction of the curfew until April 2021 and in the interim believes it is important to further consult with the community, including registered cat owners and wildlife groups.
What Council is proposing is for a night-time curfew, from sunset to sunrise. This does not require cat owners to make any changes to their property, such as a special cat run. It would simply require them to keep their cat indoors, whether that be inside the home, garage or shed – somewhere comfortable and safe for the cat and also for birds and wildlife.
When cats are outdoors they can attack wildlife, get hit by cars, be injured or injure other cats, and spread diseases such as feline AIDS. They can also spray, howl, and annoy neighbours, especially during mating season.
Please read: Decisions of Council May 2020 meeting - Item 1.5 (pdf, 321KB)
In a study by the CSIRO (We need to worry about Bella and Charlie) it found that: Pet cats kill introduced species more often than do feral cats living in natural environments, but, nonetheless, the toll of native animals killed per square kilometre by pet cats in residential areas is still much higher than the toll per square kilometre by feral cats.
The survey remains open until 30 July 2020. The results of the survey will be reported back to a future Council meeting, made available on Council’s website www.monash.vic.gov.au and provided in a future edition of the Monash Bulletin.
If you would like further clarification or wish to discuss the potential night time cat curfew further, please do not hesitate to contact Council’s Community Laws team on 9518 3555.