Council Laws in Victoria
COUNCIL LAWS ON TRESPASSING CATS
What Can I Do If A Cat Keeps Coming On My Property
Owned or unowned cats can trespass on private property and cause considerable nuisance by spraying or defecating in gardens, fighting, making noise through calling and crying, or attacking wildlife.
The Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994 provides landowners and occupiers with a means to address the nuisance caused by cats entering private property without permission.
Keeping A Cat Confined
Some Municipalities have an order under section 25 of the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994. A section 25 order requires cat owners to keep their pets confined to the property during specified hours (e.g. between dusk and dawn, or 24 hours a day). Contact your Council to check whether this applies in your Municipality.
If your Council is currently subject to a section 25 order, owned or unowned cats found on your property during the times specified by the order may be trapped. You must immediately notify your Council when you have trapped a cat, and the Council will then impound it. You may be able to hire pressure plate traps from your Council to conduct trapping yourself, or a Council officer may do it for you.
Any cat that is unidentified and trapped will be impounded under a section 25 order and will be held for 8 days (unless they are wild, uncontrollable or diseased, in which case they may be euthanased). If unclaimed, they may then be sold or euthanased.
Owners of identified cats trapped under a section 25 order will be notified within 4 days of the cat’s impoundment. The cat will be held for 8 days, during which time it can be reclaimed by the owner (impounding fees and offence provisions will apply). If unclaimed after 8 days, it may be sold or euthanased.
Using a Section 23 to Address Nuisance Cats
If your Municipality does not have a section 25 order requiring the confinement of cats to the property during specified times, you can use the procedure under section 23 of the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994 to address the problem.
Under section 23, it is an offence for a cat to remain on private property without permission. Landowners or occupiers may trap cats (both owned and unowned) found trespassing on their property. Where a cat has been trapped on a private property under section 23, the owner/occupier must immediately notify the Council of the municipal district in which the property is situated (or organisation operating the Council’s pound).
Unidentified cats trapped under section 23 will be held by Council for 8 days (unless they are wild, uncontrollable or diseased, in which case they may be euthanased). If unclaimed, they may then be sold or euthanased. If the trapped cat is identified, Council will record its registration or identification details, before the cat is released or returned to the owner. Within 5 business days, Council will serve the owner with a notice of objection to the presence of that cat on the private property. The landowner/occupier of the private property will receive a copy of this notice within 24 hours of it being served. If, after a notice of
objection has been served, the cat again enters or remains on private property without permission, the owner of the cat is guilty of an offence. The cat may be impounded, and the owner will be notified within 4 days of impoundment. When the cat is returned to the owner, impounding fees will apply (and an infringement notice or court summons may be issued). If the cat is not reclaimed by the owner within 8 days, it will be sold or euthanased.
Some trespassing cats may be friendly and approachable, and you may simply be able to note their registration/identification details, or put them in a cat carrier and transport them to the pound. Other cats, particularly if they are unowned, will require trapping.
Your Council will tell you whether you can hire a trap, or whether you will need to make an appointment for a Council officer to conduct the trapping. If hiring a trap, you will be responsible for the welfare of the cat involved and will need to follow a basic cat trapping protocol to ensure the cat’s welfare (your Council should provide you with more information on this when you pick up the trap). Prior to trapping (by the Council or yourself), you must feed the cat in the same place at the same time daily (preferably in the shade). While trapping is most effective if done just before dusk, the cat may have to be fed during working hours
if the final trapping date cannot be scheduled for an evening. Furthermore, if trapping under a section 25 order, you will have to ensure feeding and trapping occur only within the hours specified by the order.
Once the feeding routine is established, contact your Council to make an appointment for trapping or to hire a trap yourself. If hiring a trap, your Council should provide you with detailed information on the relevant procedure and protocol. The cat must not be fed for 24 hours prior to trapping to ensure it is sufficiently hungry to enter the trap for food.