Outdoor cats like Merlot just became indoor cats overnight.
From October 1, cats living in the forested Yarra Ranges, an hour east of Melbourne, will be on a permanent curfew. This means cat owners will be required to keep their cats within their property at all times, with the aim of boosting the dwindling numbers of native Australian wildlife. But as you may know, keeping cats within a fence is pretty much impossible. Therefore, this curfew is likely to produce either house-bound cats, or law-breaking owners.
To find out how the cats and their owners feel, we decided to spend some time with cats. What did they do to mark the passing of an era?
Sox, 19 cat years. Owner: Lucy Hart, 29
Sox is a Tabby who spent his last day of freedom soaking up some rays, chasing bugs, and overlooking his garden, or as owner Lucy calls it, “his own personal jungle”. As the final hours of freedom ticked by he sat under a fern, looked around, and said nothing.
Owner Lucy tells VICE, Sox hasn’t killed much wildlife. Rather than bloodthirsty murder, Sox prefers to relax out on the lawn in the spring sunshine, or on rainy days, tucked under a bush so he can watch the world go by. “But this is the law,” says Lucy, “so we’ll be following it, and sadly for Sox he’ll need to become an inside cat for a little while.”
Clawdia, 4. Owner: Sarah Stahl, 25
Clawdia (get it?) is a four year-old rescue cat from Coldstream Animal Aid. Owner Sarah explains that unlike some cats, Clawdia already stays within the property boundaries, often playing “security kitty” on the front porch. She must have been aware it was a last day though, as she also spent some time in the grass. Sarah thinks this curfew may just turn people against rescuing cats.
Sooty, 17. Owner: Marie Kessack-Authier, 41
Sooty will be 17 in November. She spent her last day of freedom basking in the sun. Sooty has lived a full and law-abiding life. Sooty is not a murderer, in fact she spends a lot of time avoiding dive bombing Indian Mynas.
This new legislation means one thing for Sooty; gone are her days of climbing the backyard fence and lazing on the roof. Life isn’t always fair and this has left owner Marie, quite angry about the new laws.
Merlot, 7. Owner: Leisa Dabrowiecki, 40
Merlot’s last day of freedom included waking owner Leisa’s daughter at 6am to have breakfast and go outside to the toilet. After this she slept for most of the day, occasionally waking for food. After a little encouragement from Leisa, Merlot eventually did venture outside to make the most of her last day of freedom – which involved laying down and occasionally moving around the garden, following the sun.
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