Animal welfare groups have come together to present a concerted plea for more responsible cat ownership.
Representatives from WIRES and the RSPCA met with Council staff to workshop better ways to raise community awareness of the risks posed by free-roaming cats – both to wildlife and themselves.
President of the RSPCA’s Eurobodalla branch Louise Webb said cat lovers could do more to protect cats.
“Roaming cats live shorter lives due to fights, dog attacks, disease and vehicles. That’s why here in NSW the RSPCA has launched a $2.5million educational campaign Keeping Cats Safe at Home; with insights, inspiration and advice to owners on enriching their cats’ lives in a safe environment.”
Eurobodalla Council’s natural resource supervisor Courtney Fink-Downes said it was time to reassess our attitudes to cat care.
“It’s been decades since we let dogs roam freely around the suburbs and parks,” Ms Fink-Downes said.
“The toll on our native animals from cat attacks verges on unbelievable. Collectively, roaming cats kill around 390 million native animals and birds each year – they’ve played a leading role in many of the 34 mammal extinctions since colonisation.
“Now it’s time for cat owners to do their bit. No one is saying cats have to be strictly house-bound but we do need to start thinking about ways to provide them with a rich and fulfilling life while remaining at their own property.”
WIRES Mid South Coast Branch possum and glider coordinator Shelley Clarke said in the previous week they had attended three animals – two ringtail possums and a feathertail glider – that died after cat attack.
“We know that well over 50 per cent of cat attacks we deal with have fatal outcomes, either directly or because we have to euthanase on humane grounds,” Ms Clarke said.
Eurobodalla ranger Mathew Harris said owners of undesexed cats older than four months are required by law to pay an annual fee of $85.
“It’s a NSW state law but you can pay this fee through Council. Owners of undesexed cats who have not paid this fee can face fines. So get your cats desexed,” he said.
Unlike other states and territories, Councils in NSW currently have no power to confine cats to their own property. At the 23 August Council meeting, councillors voted to advocate to the NSW Government and to their representative body – Local Government NSW – to introduce legislation empowering Councils to introduce containment policies.
Image: Eurobodalla Shire Council