Australia puts squeeze on cat ownership but can they enforce the rules?

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Every time I read about cat ownership in Australia I feel that a gradual squeeze is being placed on cat owners in terms of confinement, registration and other restrictions which make cat ownership problematic or less enjoyable.

Picture in public domain. Words added.

For example, it’s been announced online that Canberra may introduce obligatory companion animal registration with a fee. They are looking at feedback from citizens of the area as to its implementation.

As I understand it, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Tasmania are the only two jurisdictions that don’t have obligatory registration of cats.

An advantage of registration is that you know how many domestic cats there are and it enables cats to be reunited with their owner when lost. Also it helps to enforce cat containment rules. But lack of enforcement undermines these laudable goals.

The projected annual fee would be in the order of AU$30-AU$60.

However, although cat containment is in force in 17 of Canberra’s suburbs the rules aren’t being enforced properly despite fines of up to AU$1500 and the building of more cat holding facilities.

The ideas being proposed and utilised are all about restricting cat ownership in one form or the other with the primary objective of protecting native species but unless you enforce rules they are almost useless.

Enforcement is expensive and the starting point is a lack of knowledge of how many domestic cats there are in the first place. And of course domestic cats are being created all the time if they are not being spayed and neutered so the cat population is constantly fluctuating, normally growing.

You could argue that the sorts of rules governing registration of pets are inherently unenforceable if people resist complying with them because the task is too big and pet ownership is largely hidden.

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