An incoming cat curfew is starting a debate between conservationists and pet owners in Melbourne, the eastern suburbs of Australia. Knox City is set to introduce a “24-hour cat curfew” from October 2021 that will force pet owners to keep cats on their premises at all times. The council said stray cats could be picked up and fined (possibly by their owners).
One of the main goals of the curfew is to address the number of wild animals being hunted by these pet hunters. This may surprise you, but cats are among the most successful predators in the world, hunting prey with a success rate of 32 percent. Cats kill 3.1 million mammals, 1.6 million reptiles, and 1.3 million birds in Australia each year, equivalent to the deaths of about 1.5 billion native animals each year. Mayor Lisa Cooper said in a statement, “When allowed to roam, cats are at much higher risk of illness and injury.”
“Keeping cats in their owners’ property also protects wildlife and prevents nuisance from neighbors and their pets.” The council conducted a survey of 720 local residents, of whom about half owned cats and 86 percent supported some form of curfew, preferring a 24-hour curfew for a one-night curfew. However, many pet owners are not satisfied with this plan. An online petition with about 2,500 signatures is currently asking Knox Council to review its decision to introduce kitten lockdown. Opponents not only argue that this would create stress and anxiety for many cats used in large outdoor interiors, but they claim that the plan was not backed up by data and did not adequately consult the local community.
Moreover, some have expressed doubts about whether locals are the most effective way to keep cats to protect biodiversity, as domestic cats are responsible for most wildlife deaths, not civilian domestic cats. “The lack of foresight is just cruel and there is no information to suggest that it would benefit local wildlife. Possums and foxes do more damage to wildlife than cats. “Cats do not disturb the local wildlife and what they do, which leads to day after day curfews,” the petition said.
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