Contrary to popular belief, cats don't have to roam. Providing their basic needs are met, cats can enjoy longer and healthier lives when safely confined to the property.
There are many benefits to confining your cat to your property including:
Improved Cat Health, Safety and Longevity
Cats allowed to roam can be killed or injured through car accidents and fights with other animals. They may contract fatal diseases such as Feline AIDS and be more likely to require veterinary attention for fleas, ticks, worms, abscesses, cuts and other illnesses.
The RSPCA has produced a Guide to Keeping Your Cat Safe and Happy At Home. It has a lot helpful information on what you need to provide for your cat inside and how you can even offer your cat safe access to fresh air and the outdoors.
Better Neighbourhood Relations
Roaming cats can cause disputes between neighbours by causing dogs to bark, fighting with other cats and defecating in gardens.
Legally, you are not allowed to let your cat trespass on other people's property. If your cat is found wandering off your property and is not identified, he/she can be seized and impounded. You may have to pay a fine when reclaiming your cat from the Council pound.
Enhanced Wildlife Protection
Cats are most active at night and will often instinctively hunt and kill wildlife even if they are not hungry. Keeping your cat confined will help protect wildlife.
The City of Whitehorse, Order No 9 Section 25(2) ( PDF 92.31KB) sets a cat curfew in place that requires cats to be confined indoors or in a suitable enclosure on the owners property between 8pm and 6am.
Under City of Whitehorse Order No 10 Section 26(2) ( PDF 110.01KB), cats are also prohibited from the following Council bushland reserves at all times to ensure that local wildlife is protected:
- Antonio Park
- Bellbird Dell
- Blackburn Creeklands
- Blackburn Lake Sanctuary
- Campbells Croft
- Cootamundra Walk
- Joseph Street Reserve
- Koonung Creek Parklands
- R.E. Grey Reserve
- Wandinong Sanctuary
- Yarran Dheran.
If cats are not confined overnight or prevented from entering these reserves, owners may see their cats impounded and fines issued.
Getting Your Cat Used to Confinement
Feed Mainly at Night
When training your cat to accept confinement, skip its morning feed and call it in at night before 8pm to be fed.
Don’t feed your cat until it comes inside – it will learn quickly that it won’t get fed unless it is home on time.
Once inside, don’t let it out again until morning.
Give them a Comfortable Sleeping Area
Make sure your cat has a comfortable and well-ventilated sleeping area with food, water and a litter tray.
Your cat should adapt to night containment within a few days. Some adult cats adapt easily, others need time and help to manage. Helping it to manage my include introducing your cat to containment by gradually extending the time your cat spends indoors or in an enclosure.
When containing cats for long periods you must enrich their environment. This will prevent them from getting bored or developing behavioural problems.
The use of electric containment systems for cats is strictly regulated, in order to protect the welfare of cats.
Consider a Cat Enclosure
Most cats should adapt well to living indoors and in an enclosure, particularly if they have been kept in this way from an early age.
Adult cats used to roaming outdoors may have more difficulty in adjusting. If this is the case, you can consult your vet for advice. Desexing cats also reduces their desire to roam and helps prevent behavioural problems.
Cat Enclosure Options
There are several cat enclosure options available to suit different housing and financial circumstances including:
- Keep your cat in your home with you, or in the garage or shed at night. Just make sure he/she has a warm dry sleeping area, a litter tray and plenty of water
- Use a cat enclosure – search under ‘Pet Shop Suppliers’ or ‘Animal and Pet Enclosures’ in the phone directory or internet for more information.
Other options include buying or building a "cat enclosure" for your yard or veranda, or installing "cat proof fencing". Look under "Pet Shops' Suppliers" in the Yellow Pages, or do an internet search, for companies that sell enclosures, netting and products to modify fences. For example, a 'roller' type product is available, for installation along the top of existing fences (the roller prevents cats from getting a grip on the fence).
If you're handy and would like to save money, you can build your own cat proof fencing and cat enclosures.
Refer to the Animal Welfare Victoria step by step do-it-yourself (DIY) instructions with supporting illustrations and photos, for:
- Cat proof fencing (i.e. modifying existing fencing to make it 'cat proof', giving your cat free access to parts of, or your entire, yard)
- Cat enclosures attached to an existing structure (i.e. the house or a shed)
- Free standing cat enclosures.
The DIY instructions should be easy to follow for people with basic DIY skills. Staff at your local hardware store may also be able to help answer any questions. If you find the DIY instructions too difficult, you may be able to pay someone else to construct the enclosure.
If you can’t afford to build an enclosure, keep your cat inside and provide food water, shelter and a litter tray.