Cat lovers retain strong views on 24-hour curfew

GYMPIE cat owners joined the federal debate this week when a plan to keep the pets indoors under a '24-hour cat curfew' was proposed by the government.

Like a cat among the pigeons, the proposal made by Australia's first 'threatened species commissioner', Gregory Andrews, sent opinions flying in all directions, including on The Gympie Times Facebook page.

Those in agreement, like Gympie's Lisa Marie Page, believe it is a must to be a responsible pet owner to protect native wildlife.

"All cats are naturally predators and there are too many unique animals and birds indigenous to Australia being lost to pet cats," she said.

Cat owner Naomi Diefenbach said her permanently indoor cat is happy, content and well fed, which benefits native wildlife and keeps cats safe.

Cats were introduced to the area about 200 years ago by European settlers and bred and spread rapidly across the Australian continent and New Zealand.

Australia is thought to have one of the worst extinction records in the world, losing about 29 native mammal species since the European arrival. It now lists some 1800 species as under threat.

Even though estimates show the estimated 20 million cats in Australia kill around 75 million native animals a day, many cat lovers, who provide a voice for their nonchalant counterparts, do not agree a naturally roaming creature should be continuously contained.

Kristine McBride Smith believes it is wrong to put a 24-hour curfew on a cat when it is in their nature to be outside.

"My boy loves being outside in the sun during the day, he never wanders. I bring him inside at night for his safety and for the wildlife's," she said.

"Night is the main time a cat stalks wildlife. I agree there should be a night curfew on cats, but not during the day."

Cat owner Deborah Clark believes cats need what nature provides.

"They need the grass and the soil and the garden, sunshine and fresh air," she said.

"I have cats who never hunt, nor do they wander; to keep her contained everyday for the rest of her life would cause her a lot of distress."

One thing is for sure, pet cats around Australia would scarcely be aware of the debate surrounding their welfare.

While current council by-laws state all pets must be maintained in a proper enclosure to prevent wandering or escaping from a person's land, I'm sure our fluffy friends would tell you there is more than one way to contain a cat.

Gympie Times

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