19 September 2022

Eurobodalla Shire Council raising awareness on responsible cat ownership

| Aiden Rothnie
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Cat on a leash

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

The Eurobodalla Shire Council is working alongside the RSPCA and WIRES to raise community awareness of the impacts of free-roaming cats.

Council members alongside RSPCA and WIRES representatives have been workshopping ways to create a better understanding of the impacts of free-roaming cats on wildlife and the cats themselves.

The damaging results 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 containment areas in select suburbs across the capital to help mediate the effects of free-roaming cats on local wildlife.

READ ALSO No longer free to roam, how do you keep your cat happy at home?

Eurobodalla Council’s natural resource supervisor Courtney Fink-Downes said letting cats roam free impacted not only wildlife but also the cats themselves.

“What we do know is that cats are having a massive impact on local wildlife; around 85 per cent of what they kill never gets brought back home,” she said.

“The data shows that when cats are free roaming, it’s not just bad for wildlife but the cats too because they get in cat fights, they’re more likely to get diseases and they often get hit by cars.”

According to Ms Fink-Downes, free-roaming cats kill more than 185 native animals on average a year. This negative impact has been 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 advocate for responsible cat ownership.

“All the major animal protection organisations are of the same mind about responsible cat ownership and containment because it’s best for their wellbeing,” she said.

“It doesn’t mean your cat is locked inside the laundry or anything like that, it’s just about looking at ways we can contain cats, no different to how we contain dogs.

“There seems to be some sort of stigma about the word containment. All we want to do is what’s best for the cats and the wildlife. We aren’t locking them inside, they can still go outside with a cat run on the leash, just like with dogs.”

READ ALSO Queanbeyan council flags cat containment policy for all new developments

This issue is something that the council has no power to legislate on, as only the NSW Office of Local Government has the power to make any definite or sweeping changes to how free-roaming cats are treated.

“At this point in time, there’s not a framework that allows councils to look at options and work with the community to implement something that works for the greater council community,” Ms Fink-Downes said.

The council is planning to lobby the State Government to allow councils to implement cat containment policies.

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