New cat law in assembly before July

ADOPT: The RSPCA says the number of cats in shelters prove the need for legislation to address the feline issue. Picture: Supplied

ADOPT: The RSPCA says the number of cats in shelters prove the need for legislation to address the feline issue. Picture: Supplied

A plan to strengthen responsible cat ownership laws is expected to be introduced to State Parliament before the end of June.

The legislation includes compulsory microchipping and desexing of cats in an effort to curb the cat crisis in Tasmania. 

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff has been working on a delivering the Cat Management Plan.

He said the plan would recognise domestic cats were an important part of many people’s lives.

“It will promote responsible cat ownership and address the ongoing community concern over the impacts that stray, feral and domestic cats can have on the community,” Mr Rockliff said. 

Under the proposed legislation domestic cats would be required to be confined, rather than allowed to roam.

The plan, which will amend the Cat Management Act 2012, has the support of the RSPCA.

General manager Peter West said it had been a “long and challenging journey” to secure consensus between stakeholders including cat rescue shelters, farmers and the local and state governments.

Mr West described the existing legislation as a “toothless tiger” and said penalties were not tough enough.

“The situation at the moment with every cat shelter in Tasmania either full or overflowing with cats and kittens definitely shows the need for action in this space,” he said. 

But Mr West acknowledged it was a complex debate. 

“Domestic and stray cats are one issue but what to do with the feral population is another issue,” he said. 

“Some things like the feral cat issue need to be decided on by farmers.”

Local Government Association of Tasmania president Doug Chipman raised concerns about councils’ capacity to enforce the legislation.

“The management of cats in Tasmanian requires a realistic approach to the issue,” he said.

“We have made the government aware of the potential cost impost on councils and have advocated for an approach that allows councils to opt in or out of certain aspects of the legislation, based on local circumstances. Alderman Chipman said ongoing state government resourcing for education and implementation was required to make the plan successful.

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