Cat law change

Cat law change

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Kate McDonald, left, has been providing 24-hour care to the baby Quenda, Scratch, attacked by a cat last Monday, with Darling Range Animal Shelter’s Yasmin Hunter supporting proposed changed to local cat laws. Photograph – Richard Polden.

A Gosnells native animal shelter has backed in proposed changes to the City of Gosnells’ cat laws that have led to a massive response on social media.

The proposed changes, which are currently out for 12 weeks of public consultation – double the statutory period – were adopted by City of Gosnells council last Tuesday night.

The change would limit the number of cats a person could keep to two, make it an offence for a cat to be on private property without the occupier’s consent and make it an offence for a cat to be in a public place unless it us under effective control.

There are currently 2385 registered cats in the City of Gosnells.

The changes are not retrospective, meaning that residents with more than two cats would not be required to give up their cats, provided they are registered with the city.

Deputy Mayor Adam Hort put up a Facebook post about the decision on the Wednesday morning after the meeting, and a little over 24 hours later the post had been viewed 60,000 times, and currently has 541 comments and 61 shares.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the strong reaction, which he described as generally positive.

“I didn’t expect the sustained response that’s for sure,” he said.

“The general take I’m getting from a lot of the comments are people are welcoming something to happen when it comes to the control of cats in a similar way it does for dogs and livestock and the like.

“There’s a bit of debate on the particulars, should it be two cats or three cats or four cats when it comes to what’s required for a permit, but the general take Is there’s a community expectation that something needs to be done when it comes to cats.

“There are a few really good things that I’ve been quite grateful for the community raising in the comments, like what about foster carers of cats, where would a permit sit for them.

“I’ve been a foster-carer in the past so I know how difficult it can be at the best of times let alone if you require a permit so these are things we need to consider and be careful about and it’s important to the community consultation we’re about to undertake.”

One consistent criticism has been that the city does not have enough facilities for cats, however Gosnells chief executive Ian Cowie said the city would consider providing a cat management facility as part of its new operation centre, with the City of South Perth’s Animal Care Facility currently used for trapped or impounded Gosnells felines.

One group that has welcomed the proposed changes, particularly to the requirement of cats to be under effective control in public places, is Martin’s Darling Range Wildlife Shelter.

Wildlife liaison and support manger Yasmin Hunter said the shelter deals with a cat attack on a native animal once a week during its quiet season, and during the peak of its operations – from spring to late summer – almost one attack per day.

Last Monday, a male baby Quenda, dubbed Scratch, was bought in with injuries caused by a cat.

“We know a lot of cat owners are amazing and take care of their cats really well, but obviously there are a lot of cats in our local government area who are let out to roam in bushland and in the streets and a lot of our patients are actually from local residential areas,” she said.

“People can always do more, we’d like to see people do more in keeping their cats safe on their own properties.

“The Quenda we admitted is a baby, so it’s just come out of the pouch, and he was admitted on Monday and has very severe puncture wounds from a cat.

“These little guys, our native wildlife, are very sensitive to the bacteria cats carry in their mouths and in their claws, and for a tiny animal like a quenda those claws and teeth go straight into internal organs and muscle, injecting a lot of bacteria.

“We are very supportive of the proposed cat laws at City of Gosnells, mainly we’d like to see people keeping cats on their properties through the provision of a cat run, or a catio, or keeping their cats indoors where they’re safe off the roads and obviously not out hunting on other people’s properties or killing wildlife.”

Public consultation will begin on June 23 through the City’s website, with Cr Hort saying there would be a FAQ section to deal with the most common questions in relation to the proposed changes.