What is the 'Keeping Cats Safe at Home' project?

    'Keeping Cats Safe at Home' is a four year project to encourage cat owners to keep their cats safely contained at home to enhance feline welfare and reduce the negative impacts that cats have on wildlife.

    The project will run from 2021-2025 and will be delivered by RSPCA NSW with support from Council. This project has been funded by the NSW Environmental Trust.

    The project will include community consultation and a tailored behaviour change strategy. It will provide up to $90,000 in incentives for cat owners that will be available from March 2022 and may include free or subsidised desexing, cat enclosures and behaviour enrichment advice.

    Who is leading the project?

    The RSPCA will deliver the project with support from Council to engage the local community, disseminate project messaging and assist with project activities. A tailored behaviour change strategy will be developed for Council based on extensive consultation with stakeholders, especially cat owners.

    What is Council's role in the project?

    Blue Mountains City Council has recently been selected as one of ten Council’s to join RSPCA NSW’s ‘Keeping Cats Safe at Home’ project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust. 

    As a wildlife friendly City within a World Heritage listed National Park, Blue Mountains City Council encourages responsible cat ownership and recognises it has a responsibility to minimise the impacts of roaming domestic cats on the natural environment. Council is encouraging the community to get involved with the project. 

    How can I have my say on cat management in the Blue Mountains?

    Council is currently undergoing community consultation on cat management until November 2021. This forms part of the RSPCA NSW Keeping Cats Safe at Home Project, an exciting new project that you can get involved in! We invite you to have your say on cat management in the Blue Mountains in an online survey.  

     

    Why did I receive a call about a survey on cat management?

    Council is currently undergoing community consultation on cat management until November 2021. This forms part of the RSPCA NSW Keeping Cats Safe at Home Project.

    As part of the project, researchers from the University of Sydney in partnership with RSPCA NSW are conducting randomised phone surveys on cat management in the Blue Mountains Local Government Area during the community consultation period. If you are called, you can choose to decline or participate in the survey at the start of the call.


    What is cat containment?

    Containing your cat means completely preventing them roaming from your property at any time, day or night. This can be achieved by keeping your cat indoors, or a combination of indoors and having a secure outdoor enclosure, or cat-proof fencing around an outdoor area. While many cat owners are already incredibly responsible, others appear unaware of best-practice when it comes to keeping cats and wildlife safe. Although non-mandatory, Council and RSPCA NSW recommend that cats are kept within the boundaries of their owners property at all times for the welfare of your cat and wildlife.

    What are the benefits of cat containment?

    By keeping your cat safe at home you:

    • Reduce the risk of them getting sick, being hurt or getting run over
    • Give them a better chance to enjoy a longer and healthier life. This saves you money on vet bills!
    • Minimise the risk they will harm or kill other animals
    • Enjoy more quality time together
    • Reduce the risk they will stray and be lost, be stolen or be impounded by Council
    • Avoid problems with your neighbours


    Learn more about the benefits of cat containment.


    Don't cats need to roam for their mental and physical wellbeing? Why is Council encouraging cat containment?

    As a wildlife friendly City within a World Heritage Area, Council recognises that it has a responsibility to reduce the impact of cats on native wildlife and the environment. Unfortunately, roaming cats are vulnerable to injury and diseases which they can spread to humans and native wildlife. Cats are also instinctive hunters that will prey upon wildlife even when well fed.

    By exercising responsible cat ownership, it is possible to better protect and enjoy our cats, our environment and our native wildlife.  

    Cats kept indoors or in a special cat enclosure are healthier, live longer and will not prey on wildlife. Cats don’t need to roam to be content and healthy, they are happiest when they are at home within the safety of their domain. Keeping your cat safe at home will also stop your neighbours complaining.

    Where is the evidence which shows that cat containment is better for cats/cats need to be contained?

    The RSPCA, a peak animal welfare body in Australia, recognises cat containment as the best practice method to keep cats safe, happy and healthy. 

    The Cat Protection Society of NSW also recommends cat containment for the benefits to cat welfare and the protection of native wildlife. According to the Cat Protection Society of NSW, the average lifespan of a cat with outdoor access is estimated to be some 10 years shorter than that of an indoor-only cat.

    Cats that are allowed to roam have an increased risk of disease, injury and death from:

    • Being hit or run over by a car
    • Being attacked by a dog
    • Fighting with other neighbourhood cats
    • Acquiring a serious infection, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), or toxoplasmosis (which can be transmitted to humans).
    • Eating toxic plants or poisons
    • Getting stuck down a drain
    • Being stolen or abused
    • Picking up ticks or fleas
    • Being bitten by a venomous snake.

    There are many health and welfare benefits for cats that are kept safe at home. By keeping your cat safe at home you:

    • Reduce the risk of them getting sick, being hurt or getting run over
    • Give them a better chance to enjoy a longer and healthier life. This saves you money on vet bills!
    • Minimise the risk they will harm or kill other animals
    • Enjoy more quality time together
    • Reduce the risk they will stray and be lost, be stolen or be impounded by Council
    • Avoid problems with your neighbours


    According to the Cat Protection Society of NSW, by keeping your cat indoors you are not only benefiting your cat, but also yourself. Studies throughout the world have shown that spending time with your cat has a relaxing effect and reduces blood pressure. The key to happy indoor cats is to provide them with enough stimulation so they don’t get bored. Indoor environmental enrichment will allow your cat opportunities to express normal behaviours such as scratching, playing, and hiding. All of these are essential for your cat’s psychological health. 

    What is a cat enclosure?

    Cat enclosures are a secure outdoor area that allow cats to enjoy the outdoors whilst staying safe and protecting wildlife. 

    Learn more about cat enclosures.

    What types of cat enclosures are available?

    There are a variety of cat enclosures available including:

    • Cat-proof fencing
    • Fence-top devices
    • Free-standing enclosures  
    • DIY enclosures
    • Professionally installed cat runs
    • Fully enclosed netting options

    If you build a separate outdoor enclosure, remember your cat will need the same essential resources they have indoors. A variety of platforms at different heights, hiding places, scratching posts, food, water, more than one litter tray, and adequate protection from the weather (e.g. sun, rain, wind) and extremes of heat and cold will all make the enclosure a more attractive and comfortable place for your cat.

    The enclosure needs to be located somewhere safe, where dogs, other cats or predators will not be a threat. Your cat should be protected from seeing other animals that may scare them (e.g. over the next door fence) even if the other animal cannot actually get to your cat. Providing places for your cat to hide in the enclosure is essential as it will help them to feel safe and secure.

    Certain structures may require approval from Council to be built. To see if this applies to you check the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 Subdivision 3A Animal shelters.

    Does Council recommend any particular cat enclosure providers?

    No, Council does not recommend any particular cat enclosure provider and encourages those interested in installing a cat enclosure to take advantage of the variety of cat enclosure options available by conducting their own research on the internet.

    Certain structures may require approval from Council to be built. To see if this applies to you check the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 Subdivision 3A Animal shelters.

    How do I transition my outdoor cat indoors?

    If you have an existing cat who roams, then try to introduce them to being contained gradually (e.g. initially keep them inside at night, then gradually increase the time they are contained during the day). It is essential to provide lots of distractions like new hiding and resting areas in the house, a variety of toys, and extended play sessions every day.

    Learn more about the benefits of keeping your cat at home and how to transition your cat indoors:

    Transitioning your cat to an indoor lifestyle

    How to bring an outside cat indoors

    RSPCA Safe and happy cats

    Cat Protection Society of NSW Fact Sheet

     

    Is it safe for my cat to wear a CatBib?

    Yes, it is safe for your cat to wear a CatBib. The CatBib is attached to the cat's safety collar by means of a hook and loop closure (Velcro). The material is very flexible, stretchy, soft, and lightweight (less than an ounce), the same material used by scuba divers. The CatBib is comfortable for the cat to wear and in no way does the CatBib interfere with any of your cat's necessary or desired movements. They can run, jump, climb trees, go up and down stairs, sleep, eat, drink and be merry. It only stops cats from catching birds.

    While thousands of CatBibs have been sold and used safely over the years, one case of entanglement has been reported.  We strongly recommend the use of an elastic safety collar in conjunction with the CatBib to ensure safety for the cat. The type of collar we sell is not a breakaway collar, but if the collar gets caught on something, it will stretch and the cat can pull its head out of the collar.

    Learn more about cat bibs.


    Do CatBibs actually work?

    A recent study by Murdoch University in Australia scientifically proved the CatBib works to stop 81% of cats from catching birds! Although, the study found that CatBibs did not completely prevent cats from predating on wildlife and were less effective at protecting mammals and reptiles.

    My cats wear CatBibs. Do I still need to keep them inside?

    Although CatBibs are a step in the right direction, they do not protect your cat from the risks associated with roaming and have been found to only significantly reduce cat predation of birds, not other wildlife. To completely protect your cat and native wildlife, it is recommended that you keep your cat contained at home.

    Is Council going to provide a free trial of CatBibs or subsidised cat enclosures?

    Council has recently been selected as one of ten Council’s to join RSPCA NSW’s ‘Keeping Cats Safe at Home’ project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust. The four year project will encourage cat owners to keep their cats safely contained at home to enhance feline welfare and reduce the negative impacts that cats have on wildlife. 

    The project will provide up to $90,000 in incentives for cat owners that will be available from March 2022. The incentives offered will be determined by extensive community consultation and may include a free trial of CatBibs and subsidised cat enclosures although this cannot be confirmed at this stage.

    What is a cat curfew?

    A cat curfew means containing a cat to the boundaries of its owner’s property during a specific time frame, usually between dusk and dawn.

    Is a cat curfew mandatory/enforceable in the Blue Mountains?

    No, Council currently does not have the regulatory power to enforce a cat curfew. Council only has regulatory powers to restrict roaming cats if clear evidence is available that shows that noise from the cat is causing a nuisance to or the cat is damaging a neighbour’s property or wildlife.

    Although non-mandatory, Council and RSPCA NSW recommend that cats are kept within the boundaries of their owners property at all times for the welfare of your cat and wildlife. 

    I contain my cats at night (cat curfew). Is that enough?

    While many cat owners are already incredibly responsible, others appear unaware that cat containment is best-practice when it comes to keeping cats and wildlife safe. Although keeping cats in at night is a step in the right direction, by keeping your cat safe at home at all times you:

    • Reduce the risk of them getting sick, being hurt or getting run over
    • Give them a better chance to enjoy a longer and healthier life. This saves you money on vet bills!
    • Minimise the risk they will harm or kill other animals
    • Enjoy more quality time together
    • Reduce the risk they will stray and be lost, be stolen or be impounded by Council
    • Avoid problems with your neighbours

    Why is Council focusing on cats and not dogs?

    As a wildlife friendly City within a World Heritage Area, Council recognises that it has a responsibility to reduce the impact of pets on native wildlife and the environment. By exercising responsible pet ownership, it is possible to better protect and enjoy our pets, our environment and our native wildlife. Council encourages responsible pet ownership of both cats and dogs. For example, when at home, pet owners are expected to contain their dog(s) within the boundaries of their property and the same is expected of cats. We all have a responsibility to protect our pets and native wildlife and this means exercising responsible pet ownership. 

    Find out more about about responsible pet ownership in Council’s Companion Animals Management Plan 2017 – 2021.

    Find out about Council's Dogs in Public Spaces Strategy, adopted in 2017. 

    Council’s Companion Animals Management Plan 2021-2025 is currently on public exhibition and we invite you to Have Your Say.   

    You can also have your say on cat management in the Blue Mountains. 


    Will I be fined for letting my cat(s) roam or for not containing my cat?

    Council has the regulatory power to restrict roaming cats if clear evidence is available that shows that noise from the cat is causing a nuisance to or the cat is damaging a neighbour’s property or wildlife. Should a breach of Notice occur various penalties (fines) may apply. 

    Although non-mandatory, Council and RSPCA NSW recommend that cats are kept within the boundaries of their owner’s property at all times for the welfare of your cat and wildlife. 

    Containing your cat means completely preventing them roaming from your property at any time, day or night. This can be achieved by keeping your cat indoors, or a combination of indoors and having a secure outdoor enclosure, or cat-proof fencing around an outdoor area.

    What can I do if my neighbour's cat is roaming in my yard and creating a nuisance?

    In the first instance, consider trying to facilitate a friendly conversation with your neighbour about the benefits of cat containment to the health of their cat and native wildlife, if possible. 

    The Community Justice Centre and the legal helpline - Law Access NSW (1300 888 529) may also be of assistance in resolving neighbourhood issues.

    If you are unable to talk to your neighbour, consider contacting Council via phone on 4780 5000 or by email at council@bmcc.nsw.gov.au to report the incident or seek further advice. Council currently does not have regulatory powers to restrict roaming cats, unless clear evidence is available that shows that noise from the cat is causing a nuisance to or the cat is damaging a neighbour’s property or wildlife. 

    If a nuisance cat is reported to Council, Council will investigate the situation. Your neighbour may be issued with a nuisance notice or order if Council finds their cat to be persistently making a noise or the noise continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premise or where a cat repeatedly damages anything outside the property on which it is ordinarily kept.

    What will happen if somebody reports my cat(s) for roaming?

    If a nuisance cat is reported to Council, Council will investigate the situation. You may be issued with a nuisance notice or order if Council finds your cat to be persistently making a noise or the noise continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premise or where a cat repeatedly damages anything outside the property on which it is ordinarily kept.