With careful management it is possible to better protect and enjoy our pet cats, our native wildlife and our neighbourhood.
We all have a responsibility to reduce the impact of our cats. Here are some things that you can do to provide safer and better conditions for your cat, for native wildlife and your neighbours.
- Have your cat desexed
A desexed cat lives longer and is less territorial. It will wander, fight and mark its territory less and in general it makes a much better and happier pet. Desexing prevents unwanted litters of kittens that contribute to stray and feral populations and thus to the ongoing demise of native wildlife.
- Identify your cat as a pet
Cats that are lost and are microchipped and/or collared and tagged, can be identified and returned safely home to their owners.
- Never dump your unwanted kittens or cats
Under legislation it is an offence to abandon a cat. Dumped cats have a very poor quality of life. They have a high risk of parasites and illnesses and being in fights and accidents. They can become feral and will prey heavily on wildlife as a food source. If you are unable to care for a cat or find it a good home, it should be taken to a cat management facility. Contact Ten Lives Cat Centre or Council for advice and assistance.
- Keep your cat from roaming
Cats kept indoors or in a special ‘cat yard’ won’t prey on wildlife are protected from injury and from catching diseases from feral cats.
Whether you see it or not, cats do roam. Research shows that the average cat can roam up to four kilometres in a night or day.
Cats don’t need to roam to be content and healthy. Cats are happiest when they are at home. They love your attention and to play, explore, sleep and watch the world go by in the safety of their domain. Refer to Tassie Cat on how to provide for your cat’s physical and emotional needs at home.
- Never feed stray kittens or cats
It is estimated that one in five households feed a stray cat that isn’t the family pet. This act of kindness increases the feral cat population, prolongs the suffering of the cat and will impact on native wildlife (through predation and disease). The vast majority of stray cats are not desexed. They will breed more cats into a life of disease and neglect. Please either take full ownership and responsibility for any stray cat or take it to the Ten Lives Cat Centre or the RSPCA.
Also make sure any food waste, rubbish and grain storage is secure from all animals. This will reduce the food available to stray cats and rats and mice (which attract cats).
- Encourage neighbours, friends and relatives to do the same
A surprising number of people still do not realise the impact that cats have on wildlife or what simple measures might be taken to reduce this impact. By spreading knowledge about responsible cat ownership we can all help to reduce the pressures that our native wildlife faces from cats.
Council has information on how to be a responsible pet cat owner; how to address nuisance cats in your yard and in the community; and about the legislation that relates to cats.
- Responsible Cat Ownership
- Desexing and Microchipping
- Roaming cats
- Keeping cats healthy and happy at home
- Legislation for cat owners
- Nuisance cats
- Trapping cats
Here are some videos on how to keep your cats happy at home:
- Inside with Cats – a collaboration project that introduces six Kingborough cats (along with their humans), who are embracing life on the inside.
- At Home With Cats – three videos to guide you through why and how to create a stimulating and healthy environment to best suit your individual home and cat.
A sample of Kingborough residents were randomly surveyed in 2013 about their attitudes towards cat ownership. Of the 406 respondents: 92% supported compulsory micro-chipping of cats; 89% supported limiting the number of cats per household; 85% supported compulsory de-sexing of cats; 82% supported annual cat registration; 79% supported keeping cats confined to the owner’s property between dusk and dawn; 75% supported cat free developments in wildlife sensitive areas; and 84% supported a ‘trap and return’ policy for roaming domestic cats.
More and more Tasmanians are choosing to stop their cats from roaming by keeping them within the house and yard. A 2016 survey by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust was completed by 1580 people – 63.5 % were cat owners, 31.4% were non-cat owners and 5.3% were thinking about getting a cat. The results include:
- Of the cat owners, 48% said they contain their cat/s all the time, 34% contain their cats at night only and only 19% said they never contained their cats.
- 62% of all respondents supported compulsory 24hr containment of cats to the owner’s property, 23% did not support compulsory containment and 15% were unsure.
- For non-cat owners: 92.1 % supported compulsory confinement, 3.9 % did not support it and 4.1 % were unsure. For cat owners: 46% supported compulsory confinement, 33% did not support it and 21.0 % were unsure.
Interestingly, research indicates that the views and behaviours of family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours influence cat-owners’ intentions and behaviours. So don’t underestimate your power when you role model responsible pet cat ownership, or take time to offer support and share your experience. This may well be the greatest contribution you can make in your community on this issue.