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Cat curfew

A Melbourne council has abandoned controversial plans to introduce a 24-hour cat curfew. Fur flew and the claws were out when Nillumbik residents learned they would have to curtail their cats to their own properties around the clock. Almost 800 cat owners protested against the proposal, arguing the cost of cat enclosures in their own back yards, the logistics and even cruelty issues relating to confinement would make the curfew impossible to put into practice or police.

Nillumbik, covering Eltham and Hurstbridge and with large native animal populations, already enforces a dusk-to-dawn cat curfew. But the council considered extending the ban to restricting felines to within their own fences day and night. Animal lover Jane Easton was aghast that her cat Sprocket could be forced indoors for good.

"Oh, he'd be terribly miffed if he could see our border collie pups Zuki and Barney playing outside and he couldn't join them," Ms Easton said. While she supports the council's overnight cat curfew, "animals should be allowed to be animals and I don't believe they be locked up day in and day out".

Nillumbik mayor Warwick Leeson said many residents made the point they didn't want to confine cats to their properties or lacked the wherewithal. "Quite clearly, there was not widespread community support and in those circumstances, compliance would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible," Cr Leeson said.The council will step up an education program about responsible pet ownership.


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