What’s the best use of government time?
Clamping down on crime? Solving immigration problems? Perhaps even fixing a pothole or two?
Nope, Australia has a better idea — stopping those pesky nine-lives, allergy-inducing felines lurking in the shadows just waiting to pounce.
Many parts of Australia have implemented a “cat curfew,” ranging from specific hours that cats cannot leave their owner’s property alone to an outright 24-hour ban on free-range kitties, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
“These [restrictions] are put in place to keep our wildlife safe and protect our cats from road accidents, infectious diseases and injury from other animals,” cat protection CEO Kristina Vesk told NCA NewsWire, as reported by The West Australian.
Pet owner Braden Anderson told the Journal his 11-year-old cat, Willow, is none too happy with it.
“She sits at the door, and she is clearly annoyed,” Anderson said. “She’s been meowing at us to let her outside.”
And what if a curious cat like Willow decides she needs to take a solo stroll around the block? Well, the owner should prepare to face fines that could reach over $1,000.
The city website of Greater Shepparton in the southeastern state of Victoria says, “It is an offense for a cat to be outside the owner’s premises at any time of the day or night.”
Do you like cats?
Yes: 92% (45 Votes)
No: 8% (4 Votes)
“Council Officers can seize your cat, issue a notice to stop your cat trespassing or issue infringement notices if [your] cat wanders off your property,” it says.
Yep. The potential seizing of a pet makes perfect sense; arrest the fluffy being for the crime of simply being a cat.
Greater Shepparton also provides a list of ways “to confine your cat” and the oh-so-helpful statements: “Wandering cats can become lost” or “annoy neighbors by spraying, fighting, yowling and digging in gardens.”
If there is ever a Cat Owning for Dummies guide, the Great Shepparton City Council should write it.
The curfews have led owners to wrangle felines into harnesses and leashes or to attempt to make yards cat-proof.
Alison Clifton of suburban Adelaide told the Journal that her tuxedo cat refuses to eat unless he goes outside, and she now walks him up to four times a day on a leash in spite of the looks she receives.
“A lot of people will think it’s quite eccentric to see someone walking a cat. People are curious and amused,” she noted.
As absurd as a “cat curfew” is, it just goes to show if you give an inch, they take a mile.
It’s not the first time the land Down Under has exhibited government overreach. The late 1990s saw the passing of a strict gun control law called the National Firearms Agreement after a mass shooting in Port Arthur, resulting in citizens relinquishing more than 650,000 guns in a “buyback” program.
In 2020, Australia went even further, making citizens either surrender or register toy gel blasters that fire small pellets made of mainly water.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities set up quarantine camps that some Australians compared to prisons.
Now it’s the feline population that is under the government’s thumb.
In a world that already uses aircraft to enforce speed limits, maybe next we will use taxidermy bird drones to clamp down on the wild cats of Australia.
Oh wait, we probably shouldn’t give them any ideas.
Next, we might even get cat buyback programs.
If it comes to that in the United States, I for one, will have the 3-D printer ready to make some ferocious felines for the inevitable sweet, sweet gift cards that the government so graciously loves to give out.