Australia is dealing with potential cat curfews because of the damage they conduct to the native wildlife when they go roaming at night.
Alison Clifton’s tuxedo cat, Moriarty, loves being outside so much he refuses to eat breakfast before a morning stroll. For Dr. Clifton, that risks a legal cat-astrophe.
Her suburb near the Australian city of Adelaide has made it illegal for pet cats to leave their owner’s property alone between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. To keep Moriarty safe while providing fresh air and exercise, Dr. Clifton straps him in a harness, attaches a leash and takes him for a walk, often four times a day. “A lot of people will think it’s quite eccentric to see someone walking a cat,” she says. “People are curious and amused.”
More towns in Australia are enacting cat-containment rules because felines pose a threat to the country’s unique native wildlife, including small animals such as bilbies and numbats.
About half of municipal councils in some parts of Australia have curbed cats, with fines for owners that can run into the hundreds of dollars. Many have moved beyond nighttime curfews to ban unrestrained cats outdoors at any time. Some areas exempt older felines.
One municipality on the outskirts of Melbourne, called the Yarra Ranges, issued 22 tickets last year.