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Cats make great pets, they are a much loved companion for millions of Australians. Cats are quiet, clean and they don't need a lot of space or exercise. Compared to dogs, cats generally cope better with being left alone when their owners are at work. Cats provide excellent company. They can be playful and affectionate, yet can still be very independent.


New cat by-law to help manage cat behaviour and keep them safe

Council has endorsed a new cat by-law to help reduce the impact cats have on our environment. New rules include compulsory registration; number of cats allowable on a property and cat confinement.
The draft cat by-law was a result of lengthy consultation organised as part of Council’s Animal Management Plan in 2017. Part of the consultation involved asking questions regarding the management of cats in the Mount Barker district.
From this survey (from March to April 2019) Council received 526 responses about cat management (see results below).

Community Consultation Results

  • 76% supported cat registration
  • 68% supported a limit to 2 cats per property
  • 71% supported cat curfew
  • 73% supported council addressing cat nuisance/behaviour

The new cat by-law will include the following changes:

Council will trial a transition period to finalise details (including dispensation processes, fines and actions)
Limit to cat numbers (2 per property)

Placing a limit on the number of cats which can reside at a property will assist with the reduction of unwanted kittens which require rehoming. It will also build the capacity to addresses excessive cat numbers causing health, nuisance and welfare issues.

The Cat By-law allows for some flexibility when it comes to cat numbers at a premises.

Similar to requests in relation to dog numbers, cat owners will need to apply to Council to seek approval for more than two cats to be kept at their property. An application form and an application process will be available on our website in coming weeks.

In assessing the request to keep more than two cats on a property Council staff will require the applicant to seek the consent of their immediate neighbours. If the property is a rental then written consent of the property owner or the managing land agent will be required.

In addition:

  • all the cats being kept on the premises will need to be desexed;
  • no insanitary condition is being caused by keeping of the cats on the premises; and
  • no nuisance is being caused by the cats

If Council receives complaints about cats once dispensation has been granted or cats from the property have been observed to be contravening the curfew then the dispensation for an extra cat can be revoked.

Animal hoarding

Limit is 2 per dwelling, for both a rural or urban residence.

Exceptions may be made for those who already own more than two cats.


The main advantage of cat registration is that it helps with reuniting lost cats with their owners. This is a key component of Council’s role in dog and cat management.


A key part of the by-law is addressing nuisance cat behaviour. A cat is causing a nuisance if it (as per definition):

  • Unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of a person, including but not limited to a cat(s) displaying aggressive nature or creating unpleasant noise or odour; or
  • Damages or otherwise has an adverse impact upon native flora or fauna; or
  • Acts in a manner that is injurious to a person’s real or personal property; or
  • Wanders onto land without the consent of the owner or occupier of the land
  • Defecates or urinates on land without the consent of the owner or occupier of the land.

What will happen to cats making a nuisance? In the first instance Council will discuss any cat nuisance issues with owner(s) of the cat(s) and inform them of their responsibilities. This will hopefully result in a change of behaviour, if the issue continues Council will look into undertaking enforcement action.

Confinement (curfew)

A curfew will address nuisance behaviour from cats within the curfew times (8pm to 7am) and will also be a huge step toward decreasing the impacts that cats have on native wildlife. 

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.

Generally speaking, indoor cats live in a much more stress-free environment than those that spend time outside and may live up to 15 years or more.

What will happen to cats found breaking the curfew? Council’s aim is to reunite lost animals with their owners. Any cats that cannot be reunited with their owners will be impounded and hopefully rehomed.


For more information about selecting a suitable cat as a pet, fact sheets, desexing and microchipping

To search for lost and found animals, the Dogs and Cats Online system is a database of dogs and cats that reside in South Australia



6 Dutton Road, Mount Barker SA 5251
T 8391 7200