Eurobodalla Shire Council raising awareness on responsible cat ownership

cat on a leash

Eurobodalla Shire Council has been working with the RSPCA and WIRES on cat containment and responsible ownership. Photo: Kevin Wells.

Eurobodalla Shire Council is working with RSPCA and WIRES to raise community awareness of the impact of free-roaming cats.

Council members, along with RSPCA and WIRES officials, have been devising ways to create a better understanding of the impact of free-roaming cats on wildlife and the cats themselves.

The harmful effects of free-roaming cats have been well documented in recent years. They often attack wildlife and can have an immense impact on local fauna.

Recently, the ACT established cat sanctuaries in select suburbs of the capital to mitigate the impact of free-roaming cats on local wildlife.

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Eurobodalla Council’s Natural Resources Officer, Courtney Fink-Downes, said free-roaming cats not only had an impact on wildlife but also on the cats themselves.

“What we do know is that cats have a massive impact on local wildlife; around 85 percent of what they kill is never brought home,” she said.

“The data shows that roaming cats are not only bad for wildlife, but also for the cats because they get into cat fights, they are more susceptible to disease, and they are often hit by cars.”

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On average, free-ranging cats kill more than 185 native animals a year, according to Ms Fink-Downes. These negative impacts were one of the driving factors behind the Eurobodalla Council’s discussions on cat containment and responsible cat ownership.

Ms Fink-Downes said the council wanted to promote responsible cat ownership.

“All major animal welfare organizations agree when it comes to responsible cat ownership and containment because it’s what’s best for their welfare,” she said.

“That doesn’t mean your cat is locked in the laundry or anything, it’s just a matter of looking at ways we can contain cats, no different than dogs.

“There seems to be some kind of stigma around the word containment. We only want to do what is best for the cats and wildlife. We don’t lock them inside, they can still go outside with a cat on a leash, just like dogs.”

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The Council has no legislative power on this subject as only the NSW Office of Local Government has the power to make any final or sweeping changes to the treatment of free-roaming cats.

“At this point there is no framework that allows councils to explore options and work with the community to implement something that works for the larger council community,” Ms Fink-Downes said.

The council plans to lobby the state government to allow councils to implement cat containment guidelines.

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