Our vision

All cats will be owned, wanted and cared for by responsible owners

This vision recognises the important role of cats as pets and that people have responsibilities for animal welfare and protecting native wildlife.

The ACT Cat Plan 2021-31

With about a quarter of Canberra households owning cats, cats are a significant part of our society. Cats provide love, companionship and important health and wellbeing benefits to their owners. In return, it is essential that we provide safe and happy homes for them.

The ACT Cat Plan 2021–31 guides the management of cats—owned, semi-owned, unowned and feral cats—over the next decade. Implementation of the plan will be guided by the ACT Cat Plan Implementation Plan.

Cats that are not responsibly owned are at risk of harm to themselves and native wildlife. They may also pose a nuisance to neighbours.

Research shows that cats have already contributed to the extinction of more than 20 Australian mammals. In Canberra alone, each year roaming cats are estimated to predate on 61,000 native birds, 2,000 native animals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6,000 native frogs.

See a summary of the Cat Plan under About the Plan.

What we heard: Community engagement

The ACT Government held extensive consultation on the Draft ACT Cat Plan in 2019, with more than 4000 people and organisations taking part. See the consultation’s listening report and consultation report in the document library.

A follow-up survey on cat containment through the YourSay Community Panel survey in 2021 confirmed support for the containment.

About the plan

The ACT Cat Plan has three overarching objectives:

  • Caring for pet cats through responsible cat ownership
  • Protecting wildlife from cat predation
  • Reducing nuisance by roaming cats to ACT residents

Improving cat management requires a shared commitment by government and the community. Nearly everyone has a stake in how cats are managed, including cat owners, neighbours, people involved in the pet industry, veterinarians, conservationists, animal welfare and rescue organisations, community groups and rural landholders.

Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) and Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development (EPSDD) are responsible for implementing the plan, including through partnerships with service providers such as the RSPCA ACT, other organisations and community groups.

The plan contains eight strategies to address cat management in the ACT, as outlined below.

  • Strategy 1

    Promote responsible cat ownership

    • Run community education and engagement campaigns on responsible ownership.
    • Raise awareness of the impact of roaming cats on wildlife and residents.
    • Improve cat de-sexing rates.
  • Strategy 2

    Improve compliance and enforcement of cat laws

    • Introduce a compulsory registration scheme for cats.
    • Run a public education campaign.
  • Strategy 3

    Reduce the number of semi-owned and unowned domestic cats

    • Increase awareness about their environmental and welfare implications.
    • Work with animal care and rescue organisations to manage them in public places.
  • Strategy 4

    Continuously improve domestic cat welfare and management practices

    • Develop and adopt codes of practice and standard operating procedures.
    • Work with external service providers for the operation of cat management facilities.
    • Provide access to training and education to cat management practitioners and stakeholders.
    • Facilitate provision of adequate cat management facilities/shelters.
  • Strategy 5

    Expand cat containment

    • Encourage voluntary cat containment.
    • Declare all new suburbs as cat containment areas.
    • Introduce city-wide cat containment requirements for new cats.
    • Introduce legislation to allow cats to be walked on a lead and harness.
  • Strategy 6

    Reduce impacts of feral cats

    • Raise awareness of impact on native wildlife.
    • Support relevant Australian and ACT Government management plans.
    • Participate in regional and national monitoring, research and trials.
    • Undertake feral cat control where feasible and appropriate.
    • Increase cat-free conservation areas through expansion of predator-proof fencing.
  • Strategy 7

    Engage rural landholders in improved cat management

    • Raise awareness and training.
    • Engage with landholders and organisations on managing wandering domestic cats.
    • Consider expanding cat containment to rural areas.
    • Work with rural landholders to reduce the impact of feral cats.
  • Strategy 8

    Promote human health and wellbeing through responsible pet ownership

    • Recognise and promote health and wellbeing benefits.
    • Raise public awareness about reducing risk of infection from cats.



The following are several research papers undertaken on impact, management and ecology associated with cats in Australia.

Click on the links below to read the full paper.

Research on pet cats in the ACT

Australian research on cat management

Australian research on impact of cats on wildlife

Australian research on feral cats

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