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What legal responsibility does my Council have in relation to cat management?

Under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, Councils may appoint cat management officers who have the authority to seize, detain or destroy unidentified cats in their council area. Cat management officers can receive unidentified cats seized by the public.

Councils can introduce by-laws for the management of cats. Individual Councils publish information relating to their by-laws on their website.

A template Cat By-law has been developed by the Dog and Cat Management Board and the Local Government Association of South Australia.

The template By-law contains suggested clauses to deal with:

  • Identification through microchipping;
  • Mandatory de-sexing;
  • Dealing with nuisance cats; and
  • The maximum number of cats.

Councils may also choose to introduce a registration system for cats.

The template is available from the LGA, click here.

A Guide to Preparing a Cat By-law has be produced to assist Councils through the process of community consultation and deciding which of the clauses in the template By-law are appropriate for their local area.

In the absence of a Cat By-law, councils may deal with nuisance animal incidents under the Local Government Act 1999.

Is it OK to keep a cat confined indoors?

Just as dogs must be confined to their owner’s property there is increasing demand within the community that cat owners should confine their pets within their property.  Contrary to common belief, cats do not have to roam outdoors to be happy.

If you keep your cat entertained by creating an interesting and stimulating environment which fulfils its physical, mental and social needs, it will be happy to stay within the confines of your property.  For your pet to have the best of both worlds, the ideal solution is to provide an enclosed outdoor area which has access to the indoor dwelling. The Dog and Cat Management Board publishes the helpful booklet Good Cats Play At Homewhich provides advice and information about keeping your cat contained within your property.

How can I prevent cats coming into my yard?

If you know the identity of the cat owner, you should approach them in a friendly and constructive manner to discuss the issues.  It is recommended that you contact your Local Council to ascertain whether they have a cat management by-law and are able to assist. There are also a number of herbal, chemical and visual deterrents available which have been used with varying degrees of success to deter un-invited cats.

The Dog and Cat Management Board has a helpful information sheet which provides more information on how to deter cat from your property. Un-Invited Cats fact sheet.

How do I access subsidies in relation to desexing my cat?

The National Desexing Network has a low cost desexing application and a directory of participating vets in South Australia.

Councils with cat registration may offer a registration discount for desexed cats.

How can I protect native wildlife and still own a cat?

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the effect your cat may have on local wildlife.  These include:

  • Confine your cat to an enclosure, which protects wildlife and reduces the risk of your cat being injured or contracting a disease.
  • Desexing your cat, which will make it less territorial and less likely to wander.
  • Identifying your cat to ensure it can be returned to you if it does wander from your property.
  • Never dump unwanted kittens or cats.

What can I do about stray or homeless cats in my neighbourhood?

Unknowingly, well intentioned people may contribute to increases in the homeless cat problem by feeding a local stray cat.  Providing food maintains homeless cats in a fertile condition enabling females to breed more often producing more homeless cats.  Homeless cats generally experience a poor quality of life and are prone to malnutrition, infection and disease, including Feline Aids, which is often spread to owned cats. The Dog and Cat Management Board has an information sheet relating to homeless cats which provides advice about stray and semi-owned cats. Homeless Cats. The Facts.

If you do have stray cats in your neighbourhood, property owners are legally permitted to trap cats and take them to their local council, vet or animal shelter.  The cat will then be assessed in terms of condition, temperament and injury and a decision made in relation to its suitability for re-homing.  Identified cats or cats that are obviously owned must be returned to their owner or released where they were found.

Many Local Councils provide assistance in relation to the trapping of cats.

What are my legal rights in relation to a nuisance cat?

Many local Councils have a Cat By-law in place and this by-law may include an offence relating to nuisance cats.  It is therefore a good idea to contact your Council to ascertain whether they have a cat management by-law implemented.  Councils also publish this information on their websites or in their plan of management relating to dogs and cats.

Property owners are legally permitted to trap cats which trespass on their properties, and deliver unidentified cats to their local council, vet or animal shelter.  Many councils offer a cat trap hire service.

Do cats have to be identified by law?

The Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2010 define an identified cat as a cat that has a collar around its neck that is marked with the current address or telephone number of the owner, or the cat has a microchip implanted which is linked information identifying the owner or other person entitled to possession of the cat.

Unidentified cats can be seized and delivered to authorised officers described in the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995. If ownership cannot be established, the cat many be disposed of accordingly.

Although there is currently no legislated requirement for the identification of cats, under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, Councils can introduce by-laws to manage cats that may include requirement to identify cats  with a microchip and/or collar and tag.