It would seem the ACT Government’s cat containment policy is setting a precedent across the NSW border, with Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council recently deciding to enforce the containment of all cats 24 hours a day in two new Queanbeyan suburbs.
The rollout of the new policy is staged: Googong West, Googong South and Googong East, and Jumping Creek Estate became cat containment areas on 28 May, while Googong Central and Googong North won’t join the new policy for another five years.
Council said this will allow residents already living in the developed areas of Googong time to adjust to the policy, while residents moving to the undeveloped areas of Googong and the unbuilt Jumping Creek Estate will be made aware of the policy beforehand.
Council will also apply the policy to all future subdivision certificates and is considering introducing it to other new greenfield developments in the area, such as those in Bungendore.
Under the policy and following ACT protocol, residents in cat containment areas will be required to restrict cats to their home, create a purpose-built cat enclosure or erect cat-proof fencing.
Residents will be allowed to exercise their cats outside their property, but will need to keep them on a lead.
Council said it has experienced an increase in cat-related complaints following the growth of Googong and its proximity to the Googong Dam foreshore, bushland and rural properties.
These complaints include cats digging and defecating in private gardens; scratching vehicles; fighting at night, causing excess noise; hunting and killing wildlife; and contributing to nuisance dog barking.
It is hoped the new policy will protect fauna and wildlife close to Googong and reduce complaints to council.
However, not everyone agrees with the new policy, and a passionate councillor Pete Harrison, who voted against the policy, reminded the council that “cat lives matter”.
“As a faithful slave of one, dear 21-year-old cat, I feel very much obliged to speak in defence of cats,” he said.
“Could I suggest from the outset that cat lives matter and we won’t solve any problems by locking up all cats.”
Mr Harrison argued wildlife is threatened by feral cats, not pet cats.
However, councillor Brian Brown, who voted in favour of the policy, reminded Mr Harrison that no other pets run free.
“We don’t let our horses run free and we keep our dogs on leashes,” he said.
Councillor Trudy Taylor, who also voted in favour of the policy, added that council isn’t saying it doesn’t want cats in Googong or Jumping Creek Estate.
“It’s just asking cat owners to be responsible in an effort to protect our wildlife,” she said.
Ms Taylor also told Region Media that many Googong residents were aware the area would become a cat containment area long before now.