Maribyrnong cat owners are crying foul at a jump in registration fees of more than 40 per cent.
All dogs and cats over the age of three months must be microchipped and re-registered by April 10 each year.
But cat owners are questioning a 44 per cent hike in fees from $36 to $52, substantially higher than neighbouring councils including Hobsons Bay ($36), Melbourne ($32) and Brimbank ($22.90).
The fee is now level with the fee charged to register dogs, whereas neighbouring councils still charge more for dogs than cats.
Seddon cat owner Jenny said the council needs to justify the “outrageous increase”.
She said she is a responsible pet owner of three rescue cats who are indoor only, desexed, registered and microchipped.
“When I got the renewal notice in the mail I thought there had been a misprint,” she said.
“I’ve got friends in other areas who don’t pay anywhere near as much.”
Jenny said the price hike is likely to act as a deterrence for registration and lead to more evasions of the registration system.
Maribyrnong Council director of planning services Nigel Higgins said cat registration fees have increased to recoup the increasing cost of managing almost 3000 registered cats.
He said a high incidence of wandering cats requires around-the-clock staffing to collect and return them home.
“Our first priority is always to reunite lost cats with their owners and we provide an after-hours service for the collection of cats to facilitate this,” he said.
“We try very hard to avoid sending registered cats to the pound as this incurs significant costs and release fees for the owners.”
Mr Higgins said the council often needs to set cat traps which can be costly and time-consuming.
“In addition to this, we are also required to cover all costs associated with the high number of stray cats and kittens that we end up having to take to the pound, where they are subsequently rehomed or adopted,” he said.
“Cats can be wonderful pets but they do pose significant issues to the community at large.”