Council supports 24-hour cat curfew

Cr Elise Wilkinson. (Supplied)

Matt Hewson

Geelong council narrowly passed a vote to introduce a 24-hour cat curfew throughout the City of Greater Geelong.

The motion, which will require all cats across the municipality to be confined to their owner’s property at all times unless securely restrained, received five votes for and five against.

Councillors Bruce Harwood, Jim Mason, Belinda Moloney, Trent Sullivan and Elise Wilkinson voted in favour of the rule change, while Anthony Aitken, Melissa Cadwell, Sarah Hathway, Eddy Kontelj and Peter Murrihy voted against.

With Mayor Sullivan’s vote breaking the tie, the motion was carried.

The change comes after community engagement in 2023 revealed widespread support for the introduction of a 24-hour cat curfew, with 61.9 per cent of respondents in favour of the idea due to roaming cats’ impact on neighbours, wildlife and the environment.

Cr Wilkinson said while the current night time curfew had a positive impact since its introduction in 2009, the dangers to wildlife and cats themselves was still present during the day.

“The average roaming and hunting pet cat kills 186 mammals, birds and reptiles each year, including 115 native animals,” Cr Wilkinson said.

“Our pets are really important to us, they’re part of our family, they’re important companions and it’s really important to protect them and the wildlife.”

Councillors who opposed the curfew raised issues with the effectiveness of a curfew and the unexpected costs associated with complying with such a law.

“The Australian Pet Welfare Foundation provided alternatives around cat management, including targeted financial measures for low-income households, free or subsidised desexing programs, education programs with a focus on responsible pet ownership and incentives to owners who actually do comply,” Cr Cadwell said.

“I’d like to see those programs considered before we make wholesale changes to our cat confinement program.”

The curfew will become effective on November 1 this year.