About the curfew

Why do we need a curfew?

The community has previously shown strong support for a cat curfew. Many councils across Victoria have curfews in place. 

A curfew is good for your cat, good for your neighbours, good for the environment and good for wildlife. 

It will:
  • help keep pet cats safer
  • reduce the impact of nuisance cats on community members
  • better manage feral cats
  • reduce the impact of cats on wildlife.

What is the proposed cat curfew?

If you own a cat, or there is a cat living at your house, they must be contained on your property between sunset and sunrise.

Your cat can still go outside, but they must stay on your property. This can be done through fencing, enclosures or by keeping your cat indoors. 

When is sunrise and sunset?

Your cat should be contained on your property at all times anyway. It is also an offence for your cat to be roaming on private property during daylight hours, but it is a different piece of legislation that applies. 

The Bureau of Meteorology sets sunset and sunrise times every day. This is what we'll use to determine times. 

Visit the Bureau of Meteorology website to check times http://www.bom.gov.au/

When will the curfew be introduced?

The final decision about introducing a curfew will be made at a Council meeting. 

Council will then issue a formal Order to introduce the curfew. 

We're proposing:

  • a three-month education program in the lead up to the introduction 
  • a three-month cat curfew fine amnesty when the curfew is first introduced
  • ongoing education for three months after the amnesty ends. 

Tips for keeping your cat at home

How can I keep my cat/s on my property?

You can keep your cat contained indoors, create a cat enclosure, build a cat-proof boundary fence or use a shed or other outside building to keep your cats in overnight. 

How do I get my cat/s used to the change?

Your cat will adjust, but it will take time. 

We recommend:

  • Keeping your cat's main meal until the end of the day so you can call it in before it gets dark.
  • Making sure your cat has somewhere comfortable to spend the night in a well-aired space with a bed, water and access to a litter tray. 
  • Provide a stimulating environment for your cat such as scratching posts, toys and access to a window to see out. 
  • Consider installing a cat run, cat enclosure or cat-proof fencing. 

What can I do to keep my cat active?

There are plenty of things you can do to keep your cat enriched in your backyard or if you choose to keep your cat indoors permanently. 

Zoos Victoria and RSPCA have developed a Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife education program. It has some fantastic 'cat hacks' and advice including:

  • chase hacks
  • food hacks
  • sensory hacks
  • sleep hacks
You can also share your cat hacks with the Safe Cats, Safe Wildlife online community. 

www.safecat.org.au

What happens if your cat is caught

What if my cat is caught overnight?

If your cat is microchipped and your details are up to date, we can re-unite you with your cat quickly and easily.

If your cat is not microchipped, we have no way of getting in touch with you. The cat will be taken to the pound for eight days. If it isn't claimed in that time, we will consider whether it is suitable for rehoming. 

What if my cat is caught during the day?

If a cat is found trespassing on private property, you may still be fined. 

What if my cat is caught but isn't registered?

All cats within Victoria must be registered from 12 weeks of age (3 months)

If you cat is not registered, you will be fined. 

Amnesty

We are proposing a fine amnesty for breaching the cat curfew if your cat is caught in the first three months after the curfew is introduced. 

How do I reclaim my cat if it is caught?

You will be able to reclaim your cat from the pound. 

Release fees start at $52 depending on registration and microchip status. 

If your cat is not registered you will also need to pay for registration.

Do fees apply?

You may receive a fine if your cat is caught roaming as well as a fine if your cat isn't registered. 

Under State Legislation, cats also need to be registered, microchipped and desexed before they can be returned. 

You may also be required to pay boarding fees. 

I’m worried that my cat might be mistaken for a stray or feral or cat

The best thing you can do is make sure your cat is registered and microchipped. If your cat is caught, it can be scanned and you can be contacted and reunited. 

If your cat can't be identified or we can't get in touch with you, Council must hold your cat for eight days before further action can be taken.


What to do if you have a problem with friendly or tame cat/s on your property

Contact the cat's owner

If the cat appears tame or friendly, it most likely has an owner nearby. 

In the first instance, we would encourage you to approach the cat's owner and explain the problem. They might not be aware that their cat is roaming and may be able to take some steps to keep it contained. 

If you're not comfortable contacting the cat's owner, you could consider leaving a letter with them (we have prepared a sample letter).

Contain the cat and arrange collection

If you can't find the owner, you can contain the cat and secure it in a box or cage. 

We can collect cats or you can bring them in to Council's Broadford Civic Centre (during business hours Monday to Friday). 

Please note, you cannot keep a cat contained for longer than 12 hours.

We recommend covering the cage to keep the cat calm and keeping the cat somewhere safe and away from other pets. You also need to make sure the cat has suitable air flow and access to water. 

What to do if you have a problem with unfriendly, feral or stray cat/s on your property

Can people catch or trap cats?

Cats are not permitted on private property without permission from the owner or occupier. The occupier has the right to contain a cat and hand it to Council.

If you are considering catching or trapping a cat, you must do so humanely. 

Hiring a trap

Council has a small number of traps that can be hired by residents at no cost. 

Residents with cats trespassing or not abiding by the cat curfew can contact Mitchell Shire Council to hire a trap. Traps can be hired for one week and must be collected and returned to Council.

It is important that traps are used humanely. We provide information to people borrowing the cages about how to use them to minimise distress to the cat as much as possible. 

Cat safety

The trap must be checked regularly and cannot be used where the trapped cat would be subject to stress such as adverse weather, harassment by other pets etc. 

Returning trapped cats

You must contact Council so Local Laws officers can collect the cat within 12 hours of it being trapped. Cats can be bought into Council's Broadford office during normal business hours on weekdays, but you must do this within 12 hours of the cat being caught. 


How do I hire a trap and use it humanely?

There is state legislation which covers the use of cat traps. 

Council has a small number of traps that can be hired by residents at no cost. 

Residents with cats trespassing or not abiding by the cat curfew can contact Mitchell Shire Council to hire a trap. Traps can be hired for one week and must be collected and returned to Council.

It is important that traps are used humanely. We provide information to people borrowing the cages about how to use them to minimise distress to the cat as much as possible.

The trap must be checked regularly and cannot be used where the trapped cat would be subject to stress such as adverse weather, harassment by other pets etc.

If you are using a trap from somewhere else, it must be an approved humane trap with a step plate trigger. 

When can I bring a trapped cat to Council?

Trapped cats must be returned to Council within 12 hours of being caught.

Cats can be bought into Council's Broadford office during normal business hours on weekdays.

This means that you can really only use the traps if you are able to check it regularly and arrange collection or drop off during business hours. 

Where can I bring a trapped cat?

You can contact Council during business hours and we will arrange collection. 

At the moment, we are proposing that the Broadford office is the only place you can bring a trapped cat. This will ensure the cat can be attended to quickly and taken to our animal pound.