Cat Containment

Community Research

In May 2011 the ACT Government, in collaboration with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, the Australian National University and RSPCA, developed and commissioned a telephone survey to seek views on cat containment. 1277 ACT residents, including 506 cat owners were questioned. The existing cat containment suburbs of Forde and Bonner were also targeted, with 192 residents participating from those suburbs.

Download the Responsible Cat Ownership Community Research report (1.4MB)


Strong support for cat containment in the ACT

  • 65% of ACT residents, and the majority of the 500 cat owners surveyed supported cat containment for all new Canberra suburbs.
  • Only 12% of residents opposed cat containment being applied to all new suburbs.

Strong recognition of the benefits of cat containment

  • 91% of ACT Residents, 74% of cat owners and 96% of Bonner and Forde residents think that there are benefits to the community if cats are contained.
  • The three main benefits identified were contained cats:
    1. are a lower risk to wildlife;
    2. are less likely to be a nuisance to the community (nuisance behaviour was identified as defecation, attacks on domestic pets, noise at night and fighting); and
    3. are less likely to be injured, lowering vet bills.
  • 13% of ACT residents, 25% of cat owners and 1% of Bonner and Forde residents thought that there would be problems for the community if cats were contained. The main issues of concern were the cost of containment, perceived cat welfare issues and that cat containment may be forced on households in established suburbs.

ACT residents appear to be responsible cat owners

  • About 25% of ACT households own at least one cat, while ACT’s owned cats have an average age of 7 years.
  • 98% of cat owners surveyed stated that their cats were desexed and 77% microchipped.
  • Around 75% of cat owners already contain their cat, but half of these only contain their cat at night. Most of ACT’s threatened fauna (particularly the reptiles, birds and insects) are day active, so only night containment is problematic.
  • Of those cat owners that contain their cat, 92% keep their cat indoors while 7% had purpose built cat runs. (Cat containment need not be an added expense to an owner).

Cat containment is working

  • 89% of Forde and Bonner residents think that cat containment is working well in their suburbs, and 85% support cat containment for all new ACT suburbs.
  • Residents outside of Forde and Bonner are 5 times more likely to have experienced a cat related problem compared to residents living in Forde and Bonner.
  • 76% of Forde and Bonner residents never see a cat not owned by them on their property, compared to 18% for residents living elsewhere.

Contained cats have fewer injuries and related vet bills

  • Uncontained cats are four times more likely to suffer significant injures at least once a year than those that are contained at all times.
  • Over a third of the cats that are allowed to roam, come home injured at least once each year and on two-thirds of these occasions have needed vet care as a result of these injuries.

ACT residents favour control of stray cats

  • Only 3% of ACT residents surveyed feed stray cats.
  • 84% of ACT residents think that stray cats should be controlled.
  • 69% would be willing to take a stray cat to a vet, shelter or rescue centre, but only a few (7%) would be willing to adopt a stray cat.

For more cat owner information, visit the City Services website.

More information

Phone Access Canberra on 13 22 81.