Under the Cat Act 2011, which came into effect November 1st, 2013, all cats over 6 months old must be sterilised, microchipped and registered with your local council. Cats must also be wearing a collar with ID when in a public space. It is essential that if you change address or phone numbers you update the details on the microchip with the microchip registry, so if the cat does go missing a reunion can occur easily and quickly.
Under the new Cat Act, once you register your cat with your local council, you will receive a tag that your cat is required to wear on a collar when outside your property. Cat Haven and most pet stores sell many different types of cat collars; some have an elastic insert and some a breakaway mechanism for safety if the cat gets it caught on something (never use a fixed collar without a stretch or breakaway mechanism). A collar should be tight enough not to pull over the cat’s head but loose enough for you to fit two fingers between the collar and your cat’s neck.
Your cat may not appreciate a collar at first but with patience you can teach your cat to accept a collar. You can introduce a collar to your cat during a calm time or just before feeding time, using feeding as a reward. If you try to put a collar on your cat when it’s already stressed, you could have problems.
Firstly put the collar on the ground so your cat can investigate and play with it, then put the collar on your cat after plenty of play and cuddles and once the collar is on, use reassuring words and treats as a reward. You can even rub the collar with a synthetic feline facial pheromone called Feliway to help them feel more comfortable with it. Let them get used to it for a while before taking it off and do this daily, gradually increasing the lengths of time, until your cat gets comfortable with wearing the collar.
Initially, your cat may become adept at slipping its collar off but whenever this happens, simply replace the collar and give it plenty of rewards, cuddles and play. Eventually most cats will get used to wearing it. However, if your cat just won’t tolerate wearing a collar, keeping your cat indoors or in a fully enclosed cat run are good alternatives. As long as indoor cats have plenty of room to play, toys, activities and company to keep them happy and stimulated, they will be happy and more importantly, safe from other cats, vehicles or getting lost.
If you are required to keep your cats on your premises but don’t want them to be kept indoors you will need to look at getting some sort of enclosure built in your garden. CatMax (1300 306 605) and Catnip (1800 639 998) both do quality cat enclosures. Alternatively you could look at getting an attachment on the top of your fenceline which will prevent your cat from getting out. Oscillo' (08 8572 4471) is a fantastic new invention which may be a cheaper alternative to a full enclosure.
Some councils allow for rangers to trap cats if they stray onto other people’s properties. Please check with your local council to see what cat laws they have in place regarding the removal of these cats.
If your council has not yet implemented cat laws, you may want to try a commercial cat repellent such as Science Product Dog and Cat Repellent’. Another product is called D-ter. Alternatively, you could try spraying lemon juice along the border of your property or try planting citronella in your garden.