Friday 26 November 2021

City of Fremantle, Western Australia, proposes that outside cats must be leashed

The councillors of the city of Fremantle in Western Australia want to ban freeroaming domestic cats. They will have to be on a leash if they have their way. Soon cats could be prohibited from all city-owned and managed properties. This is one more step in the pressure being applied by legislators in Australia to domestic cat ownership in order to constrain free movement and protect native wildlife. 

Cat on leash
Photo: Pixabay. This is the kind of cat you'd keep on a leash without laws to make you do it as she is beatiful.

There is a gradual, insidious almost, expansion of the concept of limiting the freedoms of domestic cats and restricting domestic cat caretaking. I am not against it as long as cat welfare is also dealt with. Constraining cats can lead to bored cats and a lack of stimulation. This can lead to health problems.

In this instance, the motion for the change in the local law was put forward by Councillor Adin Lang. It was backed at a meeting this week according to The Daily Mail. Domestic cats will also have to be on a leash when in other areas such as bushland areas, verge gardens and other areas considered to be wildlife refuges. 

The proposal is also to prohibit cats from going onto roads. I find that very peculiar but it is the report. They intend to amend an existing law, the Cat Management Local Law 2020.

Adin Lang wants, it seems to me, the same rules applying to cats that are in operation for dogs. Dogs can't roam around freely and he wants the same thing for cats. Back in 1970s dogs were allowed to roam freely but it's been very different for a very long time.

RELATED: Walking your cat on a leash to explore and stimulate. A lifestyle to aspire to?

The proposed law will also help protect cats and keep them safer. I'm told that there are 750 cats registered in Fremantle. That implies that there is an obligation on cat owners to register cats in that city. How successful is that? This is a low number. My research immediately confirmed that domestic cat registration plus microchipping and sterilisation is obligatory in Fremantle. Breach of the ordinance results in $5,000 fine per item.

The proposed amendment to the law will be drafted and then be put to the council. They might seek feedback from the community before they try and turn it into a law. It could still be disallowed by the State Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation.

RELATED: Why don’t cats walk on leashes?

Postscript: if you've tried to leash train your cat you will know that it is not easy. The character of domestic cats does not lend itself to walking contentedly by your side on a lead. It is possible to train cats to do it but I don't think I've ever seen a story about a domestic cat being leash trained to walk down the sidewalk or pavement for any considerable distance in suburbia. You see leash trained cats trekking with their hiking owners. But that's rare too. And this is in the middle of nowhere so it is quiet.

I suspect that if there is a law which states that you must take your cat out on a lead nobody will do it. They will simply keep their cats inside instead. This is a potential health problem.

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