Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Acclimatising your Cat to a Confined Life. New Laws!

The old saying is "You can't make an outdoor cat, an indoor cat, but you can always make your indoor cat an outdoor cat".

I proved this wrong.

My cat was an indoor/outdoor cat for the first 2 or 3 yrs of his life. Now (5 yrs old) he is an indoor cat, if the door is open he won't run out. (Okay so on rare occasions he does. If he is scared by new people or ruckus, and sometimes he's just being mischevious). But for the most of it I can order him back inside.

Now. Because some local councils may require you to keep your cat confined to your property, it is a wise idea to get your cat used to being indoors, before those potential laws come.

If you own your house you are lucky, you can get approval from your local gov and build an enclosure for your cat, this way he may go outdoors still, but confined, the way the local gov wishes. Another option is if you can get permission from your landlord to build a cat enclosure, or more likely, have a large aviary, and fill it with levels, comfort, litter box, some trees (non-toxic to cats) and other outdoorsy things.

For a cat that has been eating, sleeping and roaming the outdoors, I'm going to say now, will be incredibly difficult to make indoors. So in this instance your best option is a cat enclosure or aviary. Of course, if you start introducing her to the indoors now, maybe she'll be 50% indoor by the time they bring in the laws. Or second best option is move to a suburb or town where they haven't brought this confinement law in.  : )

Indoor cats will need more enrichment, bring in some non-toxic plants for him or her to smell and play with. Some dangle toys, string, something to chew or bite, scratching post, and most importantly a high spot where he/she can get away from the kids, the barking dog, or the crazy cat loving friend that comes over and traumatises the poor cat.

When you first introduce your cat to The Great Indoors. Even if he/she normally is part indoor. I would recommend you put sheets, sand paper or stop-scratch things onto your furniture, reward kitty when she uses the scratching post, and always redirect her to it when she goes to scratch furniture, carpets, mats, etc. Keep in mind kitty may have been roaming 6 blocks beforehand, and now is confined in one little house. Wouldn't you go crazy too? This means exercise levels go down, so should the calories, you can get an indoor cat food or cut down the amount you are feeding (gradually).

You may also need to get kitty used to the litterbox again, put it in a quiet, low traffic area, (laundry's can be okay.. but the noises are scary to some cats). If kitty won't go when there is only litter in the tray, then place a small amount of dirt from outside in their, so the cat can recognise this as his/her usual toileting spot. Also do not put the litterbox on carpet, cats are messy, it can go everywhere, and boys especially may accidentally go on the outside of the box (sterilised or not).

Remember in all this re-adjusting your kitty. NEVER punish, scream, kick or hurt your kitty. This will only make your cat scared of you, scared to go to the toilet where you might see him/her, etc. So be kind, and always reward for good behaviour (cats are very fond of food, and train the best with food rewards, just use the same biscuits that you'll be feeding kitty for breakfast).

Now as far as my cat goes, I let him outside maybe four times a year, don't do this. Once the law comes in there will be no once a year "Cats can go outdoors" Day. He is always so happy, but it also means for weeks he is eager to get back out there. Guaranteed this is because of the smells and cats that come into our yard and have taken it as their territory.

Some cats are happy on a harness and lead, so this may be an option for having kitty out in the backyard with you, but you may also spend the money and find kitty never gets used to it, so don't get too excited about this option.

How to deal with kitty when he/she is running out the door? Always bring back in, do not allow the cat to stay outside if you can bring him/her inside, do it. Reward kitty once inside. If you have mealtimes instead of a bowl of food out all the time, then kitty is more eager for food, and more likely to come runnning back in if you shake the cat food box/bag/container. I have 250g containers, this covers 2 cats. They are a healthy weight and not losing any more weight. If your cat is fat, do not cut the food down instantly, this is dangerous, take it slowly.

I could ramble on about more tips for keeping an indoor cat all day. But if you haven't had a question covered, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to give you an answer. : )

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Cat Bill 2011 Summarised

This is a summary of the Cat Bill 2011 for Western Australia:
By Louise

What is it? This is the grain-of-rice sized chip that contains a unique code, which is held at the Australasian Animal Registry (AAR), where they can access pet and owner information to reunite lost cats to owners. It is placed between the shoulder blades, it can be done whilst conscious or at the same time as sterilisation under a general anaesthetic.

Cats aged 6 months and older will be required to have a microchip. If the cat does not, then the penalty is a fine of $5,000. If a veterinarian believes a microchip could adversely affect the health and welfare, then a certificate can be provided to exempt the cat from a microchip.

Where the word owner is used. The owner for legal purposes is someone living with the cat that is 18 years or over. Or it may be that of the guardian that takes care of the cat where it is being kept.

Local Council Registration Tag
What is it? This is a tag worn on the collar with a unique code held by your local council, you will need to visit a local vet or your council office in order to pay for and obtain one of these. The information obtained by your local council is also available to the public during daytime hours, read more in Public Records in Councils.

Cats aged 6 months and older will be required to be registered. With a time limit of 14 days to apply for registration if cat is purchased at 6 months and older. If the cat does not have one or is not wearing the tag, the penalty is a fine of $5,000. Any person/s that interferes with a microchip or registration tag in the aim to remove tag or chip may receive a fine of $5,000.

If there is reasonable belief and/or evidence that the cat may have lost its tag, then it may be possible to evade paying a fine of $5,000.

Public Records in Councils
Your cat’s details, your name, address and contact details will be available to the public. Only those cats under the specific councils registration are available on any given council register. This is the same as has been for years in the Dog Act 1976. If you have reasonable argument as to keeping your details private for safety reasons or concerns, then the local government will likely accede to your request. Certain details may be kept private for example the microchip number. 

Sterilisation and Tattoo
What is it? A surgical procedure that permanently makes the cat infertile, the tattoo is a unique shape that represents when a dog or cat has been sterilised and should be placed/found in the Left Ear. A person must not tattoo or cause a tattoo of the cat, if it is not sterilised. The penalty is a fine of $5,000.
A certificate of sterilisation should be provided once the cat has been sterilised.

If a veterinarian believes a sterilisation could aversely affect the health and welfare of the cat, then a veterinarian to exempt the cat from sterilisation can provide a certificate. Other reasons for exemption: Breeding (see below)

Owner Transfers
The ownership of a cat should be transferred when the cat has been sterilised (unless it has been prescribed as exempt and there is a certificate), the cat is used for the purpose of breeding, or a voucher is given so the owner can have the cat sterilised at a later time at no veterinary cost.
If this is not obliged to, then the penalty is a fine of $5,000.

A person cannot breed cats unless the person is an approved breeder.
Penalty is a fine of $5,000.
If the person is not approved, then action may be taken to ensure all cats owned by the person are sterilised.
To become an approved breeder, you will need to apply to your local government, however they may refuse or refuse to renew, if the applicant is under 18 years of age, is not providing appropriate/ethical facilities for the purpose of breeding, or had made a convicted offence under 3 years time, of the Cat Bill 2011 or the Dog Act 1976.

Cats are not to be offered as prizes in a raffle or similar.
Penalty of $5,000.
In some local councils they can choose to strictly prohibit cats from certain areas and require a portion of premises to be enclosed as to confine the cat/s.

General powers of an Authorised person
Set traps for cats in or on any public place or any premises lawfully entered; 
Examine, including by scanning, a cat to determine if the cat is the subject of an offence against this Act; Cat Bill 2011 
A person must not delay, threaten, obstruct or otherwise hinder an authorised person in the performance of a function by that person under this Act. 
Penalty of $5,000.

Seizing of Cats
An authorised person may seize a cat, where there are grounds to believe there has been an offence against the act. They may enter a private property with permission, consent, request of owner or occupier or with a warrant in order to seize a cat.

When a cat has been seized:
  • All attempts are to be made to reunite the cat with it's owner.
  • If the cat behaves aggressively and is a potential health or safety risk, microchip scanning is exempt, and despite usual holding periods, the cat may be destroyed in a humane manner.
  • The owner is liable to pay any fees that have incurred in relation to the cat. 
  • A letter is sent to the owner, stating that after 7 working days, the cat may be rehomed/destroyed, and sterilised/micro-chipped unless proven within 7 days that the cat is exempt from either.
  • If no owner is found within 3 working days from removal and impounding OR after 7 working days the known owner does not claim the cat, then the cat holder can transfer the ownership of the cat, or destroy it in a humane manner.

This is not an official copy of the Cat Bill 2011 and therefore for legal purposes cannot be counted as the actual Act. If you are still unsatisfied with the information provided, visit: http://www.secureakat.com.au/1/post/2011/07/proposed-cat-bill-in-parliment-in-western-australia.html where they have a link to the proposed cat bill.