After letting her two cats outside at about 2 am on the morning of July 15, Tomakin resident Claudia Quinton woke to discover that one of them, Delilah, was missing.
“I went outside and called her and usually within minutes, I hear the jingle of her bell,” Claudia says “but there was nothing.”
A few days later, after Claudia and her partner had put up flyers and searched the neighbourhood, Delilah’s body was found in the Moruya River by a man walking his dog who called the number on the collar.
“I’m so grateful to this gentleman, because of him I was at least able to bring her home and bury her,” Claudia shares.
Claudia suspects that her cat was trapped and drowned purposefully and she’s determined to find out who is behind the foul play, creating a Facebook page, Justice For Delilah, to try to reach a wider section of the community.
“There have been about half a dozen other people around Tomakin who have approached me and said that their cats also disappeared suddenly. Delila died for a reason and I’m determined to find out who is doing this.”
Claudia wishes that someone had contacted her if her cats were being annoying so she could have had the chance to correct their behaviour.
In NSW, pet cats are regulated under the Companion Animals Act 1998.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA confirmed that there is no legislation in NSW that prohibits cats from roaming in residential areas, although they are prohibited from wildlife protection areas and food preparation and consumption areas.
“Under this legislation, nuisance cats (which are cats that cause damage to property, or cats that are persistently noisy) can be reported to the council and the owner or person in charge of the animal can be issued orders to prevent further nuisance behaviour.”
Claudia says there is no reason to believe that her cats could be categorised as nuisance animals.
“We’ve had our cats, Molly and Delila, for six years since they were kittens and I’ve never had any complaints. They both have collars with our contact details so call me! I’ll come and get them,” Claudia says in frustration.
She suggests using a hose to discourage feline visitors.
“Hose them out – they hate it and after a few times, they won’t come back.”
While Claudia acknowledges the ongoing debate and social divide about cats involving owner responsibility and native wildlife, she argues that cats killing wildlife should be seen in relation to the comparative damage humans do.
“There are so many cat haters,” Claudia says passionately “Just because you are human doesn’t give you the right to destroy the environment.”
Although Claudia’s remaining cat, Molly, still jumps up on the bed at 2 am to wake her up, Claudia says she has not been out at night since Delilah disappeared.
The RSPCA spokesperson says: “we advise cat owners to manage the containment of their cats, either to the house or within the boundaries of their property, at all times.”
“Cat containment reduces wildlife predation and benefits the cat’s health and welfare, and the broader community by decreasing the breeding of unwanted cats and general cat nuisance.”
Claudia has reported Delilah’s suspicious death to local police and to the RSPCA and has been disappointed by the lack of action.
“I’ve hit a wall with trying to find out who is doing this and I just try not to think about Delilah’s last hours or that other cats could be suffering in the same way,” she says.
For more information about pet cats, consult your local council or the RSPCA website.