Should Spain follow Australia and place a curfew on cats?

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A not very convincing bird

CATS are subject to curfew in parts of Australia

Various states in Australia have taken the decision to limit the number of cats per household to two and to impose an 8pm to 7am curfew where owners can be fined if cats are found on the streets.

It might seem to be a very harsh and uncaring decision, but there have been so many problems with cat nuisance, the killing of wild animals and a spread of feral packs that many councils have introduced these laws.

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Dog lovers are not supposed to allow their animals out unaccompanied or off the lead except in designated areas and in many countries, Spain included, owners are required to clean up their animal’s mess after them.

Cats however generally seem to be allowed to come and go as they please and are not restrained so can cause all sorts of harm to wildlife and spray indiscriminately.

A pair of professors of law, Arie Trouwborst and Han Somsen from Tilburg University in the Netherlands have published a paper in the Journal of Environmental Law which proposes that the domestic cat is posing a serious threat to some 370 species in that Country.


According to their argument, under the European Bird and Habitat Directives countries have a legal obligation to protect wildlife, so allowing cats to roam and kill is illegal, the researchers say. “If you would want to take the Dutch government to court for neglecting its legal duty you would stand a good chance of winning,” Somsen told the Trouw newspaper.

Some 140 million animals, from birds to bats, reptiles and fish, are thought to be killed annually by cats in the Netherlands and of those, half the killings are carried out by cats with owners.

It is estimated that the Netherlands alone is home to between two and three million cats and some 10,000 feral cats and strays so the European total will potentially run into hundreds of millions of potential ‘killing machines’.


Dutchnews.nl followed this argument up and quoted a Delft city ecologist Diny Tubbing who told them “Keeping cats in at night will keep more young birds safe, particularly now the breeding season is in full swing. The curfew could start at 8pm around that time the cats have eaten and then it is best they stay inside.”

It is not feasible to ‘cat proof’ a back garden so unless the cats are placed in a cage or run outside, keeping them indoors seems to be the only option.

Whilst some will agree with this idea of keeping cats under greater control, others will be appalled at the idea.

Unfortunately for those in favour, the European Commission does not appear to be impressed with the idea and the Dutch EU bureau said on Twitter in 2019 that the Commission will not be asking cat owners to keep their pets on a lead or under curfew saying “According to our information, cats are not the biggest threat to biodiversity”.

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John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.

Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.

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