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Norman Waterhouse

Council powers to seize, detain and destroy a cat pursuant to the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA)

The powers to seize, detain and destroy a cat are contained within Division 2 of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) (Act). This division contains powers to seize, detain and destroy cat in specified circumstances. It will generally be the case that from a council perspective, these powers may only be exercised by “authorised persons” appointed pursuant to section 25A of the Act.

Power to injure or destroy

Section 63 of the Act provides authorised persons with the power to lawfully destroy or injure a cat in a range of circumstances, including:

  1. Where the cat is found in a reserve or sanctuary as defined by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (SA); or
  2. Where the cat is found in a “designated area” for the purposes of the Act by the owner of the designated area, or by a person authorised by the owner of the designated area; or
  3. If the cat is found in any other place, without a microchip or the name, address, or phone number of its owner on a collar.

Power to seize and detain

Any person (including an authorised person) who finds a cat in any of the above circumstances may seize the cat pursuant to section 64 of the Act. If the cat is identified, it must generally be released. An unidentified cat must be delivered to a registered veterinary surgeon, or facility for the care of cats (primarily the RSPCA or AWL) within twelve hours of seizure.

Any person who finds a cat in a remote place more than one kilometre from any genuine residency may lawfully destroy the cat, however, they must take reasonable steps to notify the relevant council and any identified owners of the cat, if this action is taken.

Microchipping and desexing prior to release

Any cat that is seized pursuant to the Act may be microchipped and desexed, with any associated costs able to be recovered from the cat’s owners (if any) as a debt, pursuant to section 64B of the Act. A person is not entitled to the return of a seized cat, unless they provide satisfactory evidence that they own, or are responsible for the cat, and pay all necessary charges owing in relation to the cat’s seizure and detention. Importantly, these costs may be recovered against the cat’s owner as a debt, even if the cat is returned.

While the above general information is provided in order to assist councils understanding their roles in respect of the management of cats within their areas, it should not be treated as legal advice, nor has it been tailored to any specific circumstance. Specific legal advice should always be sought, as required, regarding the application of specific legislative powers. Should you require advice or assistance regarding any of the matters raised in this article, please contact Paul Kelly on 8210 1248 or or Dale Mazzachi on 8210 1221 or

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