Roaming and Nuisance Cats

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Nuisance cats

As pets, cats are wonderful companion animals and have a range of health benefits for their owners. But, if not managed well, cats can also be a nuisance in our community and have serious impacts on our agriculture and wildlife.​

If you are experiencing a problem with a nuisance cat, you should try to talk with its owner about the problem or drop a friendly letter in their letter box. TassieCat has a handy letter te​mplate that you could consider using. If this proves unsuccessful or you are not comfortable with this approach, the Cat Management Act 2009​ permits trapping of cats under certain conditions.

Tr​​apping of cats

Any person is permitted to trap, seize or detain a cat on their private property. 

Before setting a trap, know what you are allowed to do and going to do with a cat that has been trapped. If you are going to take the cat to your local cat management facility, call the facility prior to setting the trap to make these arrangements. A cat management facility is not available to take cats 24/7.

A person who sets a trap must:

  • check the trap at least once every 24 hours after setting the trap, AND

  • remove any animals contained in the trap, as soon as practicable but at least within 24 hours after first finding the animal in the trap.

Within 24 hours of trapping, seizing or detaining a cat, a person must either:

Cat Management Facilities are non-government funded organisations that operate on public donations and other fundraising activities. They accept cats by appointment only, so contact your local cat management facility before you set a trap with the intention to trap a cat. This will ensure they have the space to accept the cat and adequately look after the cat.

​If an animal other than a cat is caught in the trap, it must be released at the same location, as soon as practicable, but no later than 24 hours after first finding the animal in the trap. However, before releasing the animal​, ensure it is not prohibited​ to be released under any other legislation.  

Before you decide to start trapping, there are several things you need to consider:

  • Under the Animal Welfare Act 1993, if you set a trap you are automatically deemed to be responsible for the care of any animal caught in the trap and have a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure the welfare of any animal caught in the trap.

  • Unless you are permitted to euthanise a cat, all trapped cats must be returned to their owner or taken to a cat management facility​ or their nominee, within 24 hours of the cat being trapped.

  • Make contact with your local cat management facility about your intention to set a trap. Ask if the facility is currently in a position to accept a trapped cat. If they don't have available space at that time, you may need to delay trapping until they are in a position to take any cat you trap.

  • Although not required by legislation, it is good practice to advise your neighbours through a letterbox drop that you intend to trap any cats that roam onto your property. A template for a neighbourhood letter on cat trapping can be downloaded from TassieCat - Cats in the Neighbourhood​.

  • You will need to check the trap at least once, but preferably twice a day

  • You will need to arrange transport of the cat to a cat management facility​ within 24 hours of it being trapped

Surrendering a trapped cat to a Cat Management Facility

  • Before setting a trap with the intention of trapping a cat and taking it to a cat management facility, you should contact your nearest cat management facility to ensure they will have the capacity to take any cat that you trap.

  • Cat management facilities​ do not accept cats 7 days a week. Cats are accepted through a booking system only. This is to ensure they have the capacity to accommodate the cat, and that a vet is on site to conduct a health check of the cat in a timely manner.

  • Cat management facilities do not accept cats in all trap type​s. Please discuss with your nearest cat management facility the type of trap you will be using before setting a trap. A cat in a trap that poses a risk to the cat or to the staff at the cat management facility when transferring the cat from the trap to one of their cages will not be accepted by a cat management facility.

  • There may be a fee associated with surrendering a cat to a cat management facility​. Discuss any fees that may be incurred with the facility before setting a trap.

Please read the TassieC​​at Guideline​ for the rules and processes related to trapping a cat in urban and peri-urban areas.

Don't feed stray cats or kittens

It may be tempting to want to feed a stray cat or kitten, but this only adds to the problems associated with stray cats. Unlike owned cats, stray cats and kittens are more likely to carry diseases that they can pass on to your cat, you, other family members or other pets.

Feeding stray cats may encourage other cats to move into the area, leading to a congregation of cats (a colony of cats). Feeding also increases the cats' breeding capacity. Unless they are desexed, female cats can start breeding at 4 months of age and if they have access to food, can have as many as 3 litters of 1-8 kittens per year.

More stray cats in an area puts increased pressure on wildlife and feeding them does not stop them predating on wildlife. Cat's are opportunistic hunters, meaning they do not just hunt for food. Feeding a stray cat only improves their stamina to hunt wildlife. Stray cats can also infect wildlife with harmful diseases such as toxoplasmosis.

Instead of feeding stray cats you could:

  • talk to your neighbour to see if the cat/s are owned by any of them. If the cats are owned, advise the owner that their cat/s are roaming.

  • talk to your nearest cat management​ facility about trapping the cats  for possible rehoming.​​

  • take full ownership of the cat, get the cat desexed, microchipped and vet checked and continue to provide care for that cat.

Do not feed a cat that is not yours unless you have permission​ from its owner.​

​Humane destruction of cats

The Cat Management Act 2009 permits the following persons to humanely destroy a cat:

  • ​A person managing primary production on primary production land
    (Primary production land has the same meaning as in the Land Tax Act 2000​);​​

  • A per​son who is the occupier of production premises,
    (Production premises means premises used (a) in relation to agriculture; or horticulture; or viticulture; or aquaculture; or (b) for the preparation or storage, for commercial purposes, of food for humans or animals; or (c) as an abattoir; or for any associated purpose);

  • A person acting on behalf of a person managing primary production on the primary production land or a person occupying production premises;

  • The owner of private premises if the location at which the cat is found is more than 1km from any structure or building used as a place of residence;

  • An authorised person, or a person acting on behalf of an authorised person, in a prohibited area,
    (Prohibited areas include Crown Land, private timber reserves, reserved land and land subject to a conservation covenant under the Nature​ Conservation Act 2002​ and State Forests and Reserves);

  • A person responsible for a prohibited area, or a person acting on behalf of a responsible person, in a prohibited area;

  • A person or organisation specified in the declaration of a Cat Management Area to undertake humane destruction, (A Cat Management Area is an area of land within the municipal area of a council declared by the council to be an area within which measures may be taken in respect of cats).

​Please note: All cat management activities must be conducted in accordance with all relevant legislation, including the Cat Management Act 2009, the Animal Welfare Act 1993​, and the Firearms Act 1996​. Penalties apply for inhumane activities and other breaches of those Acts.

Local councils may also introduce by-laws relating to the management of cats, such as requiring registration of cats, within their area as well as declare 'prohibited areas' and 'cat management areas' where certain control activities may occur. 

​Many public areas, such as reserves under the Nature​ Conservation Act 2002​ (e.g. National Parks) and Forestry Act 1920 (e.g. State Forests), are automatically designated as 'prohibited areas' for cats. Cats found in these areas may be trapped, seized or humanely destroyed.

​Never dump unwanted cats or kittens

Dumping or abandoning cats or kittens is an offence under the Cat Management Act 2009, severe penalties apply. Unwanted cats and kittens should be taken to a Cat Management Facility​.

Contact a Cat Management Facility for assistance with unwanted cats.

Further information


Invasive Species Branch