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Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Are you concerned about roaming cats in your neighborhood? Are you a cat owner and not sure about your responsibilities? Then this article is for you.

Gunnedah Shire Council, like many councils around our region, has had a recent increase in inquiries and interest about roaming cats, and now we have the answers to share.

In Australia, dogs and cats are treated differently under the Companion Animals Act 1998. Under NSW Government legislation, dogs in public places:

  • must wear a collar and tag
  • must be under effective control of a competent person by means of a leash, chain or cord
  • are not allowed in certain places
  • and importantly, must be micro-chipped and registered (with limited exception).

Cats, however, must have a form of identification such as a collar or tag with the owner’s address or phone number, a microchip, or other form of identification but only when not on the property that is owned or occupied by the cat owner, or when being exhibited.

Cats are not restricted in their movement or control. They are able to roam freely and without a form of control or supervision. Private trapping of a cat is not encouraged.

Anyone who does seize a roaming cat or dog must deliver it back to its owner, to a council pound, or an approved premises.

“There are many responsible cat owners who keep their much-loved pets contained in their home or
yard,” Gunnedah Shire Council Manager Community Safety Wade Berryman said.

“But there are also some who allow and even encourage their cat to roam freely.”

“Invasive Species Council research suggests that pet cats kill 546 million animals per year in
Australia.”

“Cats that are allowed to roam and are not confined within their own yard or home not only threaten the ecosystem, but they cause great frustration and consternation to many residents.”

“Climbing on doors and windows, walking over cars, defecating in gardens, and uncontrolled breeding impacts on the amenity of people’s lives and neighbourhoods.”

Council recommends that cat owners desex their pet to stop unwanted litters, and make sure their cat is micro-chipped so it can always be returned home safely.

“Where a cat has not been spayed or desexed and is older than four months, the owner must obtain an annual permit at a cost of $92 per annum.”

Council’s authorised officers are able to issue a Notice of Intent to Issue a Nuisance Cat Order, and a
Nuisance Cat Order to the owner of a cat in circumstances that are clearly set out in the legislation.

However, it is typically very difficult to prove ownership of a cat or even the identity of a nuisance cat. Residents complaining about the noise or behaviour of a cat may be required to give evidence in a court.
Council’s authorised officers require evidence before taking any sort of enforcement action that might end up in court.

There are a range of fines that can be issued to the owners of both cats and dogs under the Companion Animals Act 1998, and all animal owners are encouraged to know their responsibilities.


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