Australian Town Introduces Two-cat Policy, Following Country's Plan to Cull Millions of Feral Felines by 2020

A town in Australia has announced plans to restrict cat ownership to two per household as part of a strict new by-law.

From early 2020, cats are banned from being outdoors between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., officials in Mount Barker, a southern Australian town around 20 miles from Adelaide, said on Wednesday. Cats found breaking the curfew will be reunited with their owners, or impounded and rehomed if the individual can't be found.

Owners will also be required to register their pets, in a bid to help return lost animals.

"A key part of the by-law is addressing nuisance cat behavior," the body said in a statement.

A cat is defined as being a nuisance if it "interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of a person" by being aggressive or "creating [an] unpleasant noise or odour." Felines also risk earning "nuisance" status by damaging the environment, harming property, wandering on land when unwanted and defecating or urinating on land without the consent of the occupier.

At first, the council will speak to the keepers of cats deemed a nuisance, "undertaking enforcement action" if the behaviour doesnt change. It is unclear what this wold involve.

Mount Barker District Council drew up the draft legislation following a consultation which included surveying members of the public. The by-law will be trialled during a transition period, with further details on exemptions, fines and actions to be finalized.

Residents who already own more than two cats will be exempt from the rule. But owners will need to apply to the council to gain approval. They will also have to get the animals desexed and seek their immediate neighbors' approval to keep the animals.

Households with more than two cats must ensure their pets don't create what the authorities described as "unsanitary conditions and a nuisance in the home." The council warned the dispensation for an extra cat could be revoked if it receives a complaint about the pet, or cats are seen to be breaking the curfew.

Mount Barker District Council said the rules are designed to keep cats safe, and reduce the impact the animals have on the environment. It is hoped the the limit on ownership will help stop the birth of unwanted kittens who then need to be rehoused.

"It will also build the capacity to address excessive cat numbers causing health, nuisance and welfare issues," Mount Barker District Council said in a statement.

"A curfew is also in the best interest of people's valued pets as the safest place for a cat is at home, they won't be at risk from getting lost, hit by a car or fighting with other cats."

Ann Ferguson, the mayor of Mount Barker, told The Guardian she was a "cat lover" and the legislation was drawn up after an "outcry" among locals.

"There are more people out there who love cats and tolerate cats. Cat haters exist but they are few and far between," she said.

The by-law comes after the Australian government said it planned to kill two million feral cats by 2020.

cats, kittens, cat lady, stock, getty,
A town in Australia is limiting residents to two cats. In this stock image, a woman holds four kittens. Getty