Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Cat Ownership

Responsible Cat Ownership

As a cat owner, you have an obligation to your cat and the community to ensure your cat is housed, managed and kept responsibly. This is healthier for the cat, your family and the wider community. Irresponsible ownership can jeopardise the safety of the animal and tarnish the reputation of the cat

when it is simply behaving as a cat does.

Housing and management of cats

Traditionally, cats have roamed the neighbourhood making themselves at home with everyone. Cat owners are now realising the benefits of keeping their cats as indoor-only companions. Statistics show that indoor cats have healthier and longer lives than their outdoor cousins.

Before you let your feline friend outside, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my cat microchipped and registered?
  • Are all my contact details correct so I can be reunited with my cat if they go missing?
  • Is it fair to let my cat out to wander in neighbouring properties as they can possibly cause damage, defecate and urinate on other people’s gardens?
  • Would I allow a dog the same freedom?
  • How would I feel if the neighbour’s dog or cat came over to my place and did the same thing?

You can give your cat the best of both worlds by providing a safe outdoor enclosure for them.

This allows the cat to experience the outdoors but in a controlled and safe environment.

Benefits of keeping cats indoors or in an outdoor enclosure.

  • PREVENTS your cat from sustaining injuries caused by attacks or fighting.
  • PROTECTS your cats from public roads where they could be hit by a vehicle which could lead to serious injury or death.
  • PROVIDES a safer environment for native wildlife.

Understanding cat behaviour

Cats are natural predators, and roaming provides them with mental and physical exercise. Unfortunately, your neighbours may not appreciate your cat coming onto their property.

To reduce the likelihood of your cat roaming and causing a nuisance, you need to provide your pet with an environmentally enriched lifestyle, safe home and ensure your cat is kept in at night

  • Enclosure – a cat enclosure will eliminate roaming behaviours completely. A cat harness and lead will allow you and your cat to explore your neighbourhood safely and securely.
  • Desexing – having your cat desexed assists with controlling cat populations and reducing unwanted stray animals. Female cats can become pregnant from as young as four months of age. Cats that have been desexed are also less likely to roam or fight with other cats.
  • Toys – cats need stimulation to satisfy their natural prey drive and toys are a great way to do this.
  • Cat scratching post – cats like to sharpen their claws and strengthen their muscles. A cat post is a great substitute for a tree and helps to protect the natural environment and your furniture.
  • Cat collar and bell – a cat bell attached to a collar can help provide a safer environment for native wildlife. This will assist to reduce successful hunting expeditions.
  • Husbandry – feeding cats indoors reduces the likelihood of other cats visiting your property.
  • Litter training - it is also important to provide litter trays for indoor pets. Litter training most cats is generally easy as it is a natural behaviour for cats to bury their droppings.

Roaming cats and the law

There is no law prohibiting cats from roaming; however, you need to be aware that if your cat roams onto private property and causes damage, it may be declared a nuisance cat.

Stray cats

If you have a stray cat around your home or workplace, you should leave it alone as cats are known to roam long distances from their property and will return as long as you don’t provide them

food or water. (This will encourage the cat to stay).

Responsible Dog Ownership

Did you know you should...

  • Socialise and train your dog – Introduce puppies to as many people and other animals as soon as possible within the first 16 weeks of their life. Providing positive experiences during this time is critical for a pup’s learning and development. A great way to do this is to join a dog training club or attend puppy pre-school.
    Socialisation and training needs to be ongoing throughout your dog’s life. Dogs require leadership and interaction. Daily mental stimulation makes for a happier, well-balanced and behaved pet.
  • Provide an adequate safe environment for your dog – It’s important for your dog’s safety and well-being to provide an escape-proof yard with appropriate housing that protects them from adverse weather conditions such as rain, sun, extreme heat and the cold. Make sure you provide clean bedding, shelter, 24-hour access to fresh water, and adequate nutrition. It’s important this area provides environmental enrichment in the form of toys, bones and regular exercise.
    As a dog owner, you have an obligation to your dog and the community to ensure your pet is housed, managed and kept responsibly. Irresponsible dog ownership can jeopardise the safety of the animal and tarnish the reputation of the dog, potentially leading to some breeds becoming banned or restricted in our state/country. Strict control orders may be placed upon dogs that are involved in problematic incidents by a court or council.

Responsible dog owners must:

  • Microchip their dog – Dogs must be microchipped by the age of 12 weeks or before being sold/given away. All ownership details, such as phone numbers, addresses, and the name of the owner, must be kept current and up to date by notifying all changes to Council or made online at

Note: If your animal passes away, you are also required to give notification to Council via phone, in writing or online.

  • Register their dog – Dogs must be registered by the age of 6 months. Registration can be made at Council or online
  • Exercise their dog – All dogs must always be walked on a lead with a collar and I.D. tag whilst in a public place (excluding dog friendly off-leash parks). Dogs must be under effective control in these areas. I.D. tags must include the dog’s name, residential address or the owner’s phone number.

Note: Dogs are NOT allowed in prohibited places such as children play areas, childcare centres, school yards, food preparation/ consumption areas, some public recreation and bathing areas, shopping centre areas and Wildlife Protection Areas.

  • Pick up after their dog immediately – Carry doggy poo bags at all times. It’s important for the environment to bag it and bin it appropriately.

Any breaches made to the above may result in the issue of a Penalty Infringement Notice/s.


Desexing your dog can help reduce a lot of problematic behaviours such as roaming, territorial urine marking, barking and inappropriate mounting behaviour. A desexed dog’s mating drive is reduced/eliminated, assisting to control aggression, especially in males due to lowered testosterone levels. Desexing can also prevent some potential health problems in both male and female dogs.

Did you know you should...

  • Monitor, medicate, vaccinate and parasitic control your dog – Dogs can become extremely ill if preventative measures are not put in place to protect them from disease. Regular vet check-ups for general health assessment as well as advice and administration of vaccinations, parasitic controls and any other required medicines/treatments will ensure your pet stays healthy. It is important for you to check the general health of your dog daily, observing any changes in their behaviour, appetite and general demeanour.
    In the summer months, it is also a good idea to thoroughly inspect your dog’s coat and body for ticks that could be hiding. Be sure to feel for any bumps on the skin, between the toes, ears and any skin rolls in the coat.
  • Bath and groom your dog – Grooming practices may vary depending on the breed of your dog. For example, a long-haired dog will require much more brushing than that of a short-haired dog. When it comes to bathing, as a general rule, less is better. No more than one bath a month is sufficient, as regular bathing strips the dog of its natural oils that can lead to dry and flaky skin, irritation and allergies. Ears should be cleaned, and nails trimmed regularly.
  • Be aware of your dog at all times – When out and about, make sure you are aware of your dog’s behaviour towards other people and pets/animals that they come in contact with. It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings, including other people’s dogs and their behaviours, as well as other potential hazards, such as busy streets and cars.


Mediation & Conflict Management Services

If you would like to know more about animal related services at Hawkesbury City Council, contact the Customer Experience Team on (02 ) 4560 4444.

For more information about the Companion Animals Act, visit the Companion Animals page at

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