Roaming Cats

Undertaking research following a request from a Strata Manager to indentify a solution to roaming cats in a number of their complexes, I was overwhelmed with the amount of angst in the community about cats.

It seems that problem cats maybe as much of an issues as parking in strata complexes.

Unfortunately, as in all disputes, there are two sides to the argument.

On the one hand we have the cat owners who hold a very deep affection for their pets. So much so that they are part of the family and any talk about their pet is received the same as a complaint about their child. They tend to get very emotional when they are challenged concerning the behaviours of their cat.

On the other side are the people who suffer from the effects of roaming cats. These people can be even more passionate, as their complaints to cat owners are generally not well received or even acknowledged.

The people who complain about cats generally are frustrated that the pet owners don’t acknowledge that their cats could cause a nuisance, nor do they acknowledge the damage cats do cause. In more severe cases, cats have killed other pets such a birds, chickens, etc.

Complaints range from scratches on cars and furniture to defecating in other people’s yards and fighting. Unfortunately I have firsthand experience when a cat defecated inside my car. After removing all carpet and underlay for a thorough cleaning, the smell still stayed for many months.

Cats in Strata

With the increase of pets in Strata complexes due to changing laws and interoperations by the courts, such problems can only increase. Also with the closeness of living within a Strata complex, the problems tend to be exacerbated.

As with all things Strata, compromises need to be achieved. What we don’t want are Vigilantes hunting cats.

A recent case in the ACT highlighted the problems with a vigilante delivering a warning to pet owners that their cats would be trapped and baited and “taken far away”.

Such an attitude is not legal nor is it the solution. But it does highlight the tensions that do develop between cat owners and persons who feel aggrieved by the actions or damage caused by roaming cats.

Young Lawyers have produced a booklet covering the legal aspect of keeping pets in strata schemes.
http://www.qbmstrata.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Young-Lawyers-027213.pdf

The Law

All States and Local Authorities have introduced legislation and have in place laws and Bylaws regulating pets.

The majority of Local Authorities require cats to be mirochipped and registered. Fines apply for non compliance. Fines also apply to pet owners who fail to provide a solution to complaints. Sydney has an infringement register of fines ranging from $165 for non microchipping to $880 for not solving complaints.

Currently though there are no laws identified that prohibit cats from roaming, except Ipswich City in Queensland who clearly state “Cats must be confined to the owner’s property at all times – cats are not allowed to roam”. However, with the damage caused to wildlife in some areas and the explosion in feral cats, the call for such laws is growing.

Helpful legislation can be found at the following sites.

http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/live/animals/your-obligations#page-element-dload

http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/maintop/view/inforce/act+87+1998+cd+0+N

http://www.gladstone.qld.gov.au/documents/1570002/40517604/0041%20-%20Animal%20Management%20-%20Roaming%20Cats

http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/cat-problems.htm

http://www.ipswich.qld.gov.au/residents/animals/cats/roaming

http://www.qbmstrata.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Cat-nuisance-information-pack.pdf

Actions to Take

If your Strata scheme has a problem with roaming cats, there are a number of actions you can take.

  1. Talk to the owner of the cat.
    1. A few local authorities have produced booklets or Fact Sheets on handling the problem and even a pro forma letter that can be used.
      http://www.qbmstrata.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/roaming_cats_neighbour_handout.pdf
  2. Use natural deterrents in the gardens to stop cats visiting. These include:
    1. Citrus fragrances – scatter orange or lemon peels or spray with citrus-scented fragrances
    2. Coffee grounds
    3. Oil of lavender
    4. Garlic and Cinnamon
    5. Lemongrass
    6. Citronella
    7. Eucalyptus
    8. Vinegar sprayed on areas where they roam.
      http://www.qbmstrata.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Cat-nuisance-information-pack.pdf
  3. Contact your Local Authority and discuss the problems.
    1. In many areas roaming cats can be impounded for collection by a Council Local Law Enforcement Officer.