Aussie Cats to Be Kept Indoors, New Rules Propose

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Although the plan might sound extreme to some cat owners, local conservationists say it isn't enough.

They would prefer that cats be banned outright rather than allowing the furry hunters anywhere near land that supports endangered ground-dwelling birds.

"The current decline in woodland bird species is of particular concern in the Canberra region, where six threatened bird species are facing substantial survival pressures," wrote conservation groups and the territory's planning and environment departments in a submission prepared for the Legislative Assembly.

The Conservation Council of the South East Region and Canberra, a major environmental advocacy group, would have liked the new suburbs to be declared the first cat-free residential developments.

"We wanted an outright ban [on cats], but the government said that would be legislatively difficult to do, so we've gone for containment," said Trish Harrup, the council's executive director.

The council made efforts to gage public opinion on a range of pet-managing options, including containment. They were surprised at the level of support they received for curtailing cats.

"A lot of people [here] don't like cats, because they impact on their lives," Harrup said.

"But even cat owners seem supportive, because containment is good for their animals. There will be less chance of them being run over or attacked by other animals or being exposed to diseases."

The suburbs are still in the planning stages, which will give the government time to consider how it will actually monitor the new policy if it becomes law, Harrup says.

"How do you enforce it? Cats are much harder to trap than dogs," she said.

"We will need good education too so people do the right thing rather than relying on policing bad behavior."

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