There is currently a serious threat to our wildlife. This animal may purr and play with balls of string, but it can still be a formidable and dangerous hunter. It is Felis domesticus, the common domestic cat. Did you know that one in three households have at least one cat, and that the average domestic cat kills about 25 native animals a year? These figures indicate that cats kill about 75 million native animals each year.
Domestic cats are known to kill anything up to their own size, including:
- Mammals such as brushtail possums, pygmy possums, sugar and feathertail gliders, bats, marsupial mice and native rats.
- Birds, such as parrots, honeyeaters, pigeons, robins, kingfishers, quails, finches, willy-wagtails, and wrens.
- Frogs and several reptiles such as legless lizards, blue-tongued lizards, bearded dragons, geckoes and skinks.
Recent evidence suggests that being well-fed does not stop domestic cats from hunting. The best way to stop cats from hunting is to stop them from roaming. Keeping cats in at night reduces the number of native animals killed.
Wearing a bell does not stop cats from hunting, as they stalk their prey without the bell ringing until the moment they pounce - and then it is too late for the victim. Baby birds and mammals nesting cannot escape from cats whether or not they have bells.
Responsible cat ownership
Being a responsible cat owner is one way that you can help reduce the cat problem in Australia. It involves taking the following actions:
- Desexing your cats
- Limiting the number of cats you keep
- Keeping your cats at home, either inside the house or in an outside run
- Identifying your cats by microchip collar and tag.
Cats have a great potential for rapid increase in population numbers. They can have three litters each year, with an average of five kittens per litter. Births can occur in all months but mostly from spring to late summer. Kittens are weaned at eight weeks, and can reproduce from when they are about one year old.
Rapid reproduction of cats in urban areas contributes to the large numbers of stray cats that are put down each year by animal welfare agencies. For example a female cat, having four female kittens a year could in ten years be responsible for nearly two million female descendants.
Responsible cat ownership benefits cats, cat owners and neighbours as well as wildlife.
- Desexed cats are better and more docile pets
- Cats kept in at night are less likely to be hurt in fights, pick up diseases, be hit by cars or annoy neighbours
- Dumped and stray cats are often sick and in bad condition. Animal welfare agencies have to put down thousands of unwanted cats each year
Randwick City Council along with cat welfare agencies such as the RSPCA and Cat Protection Societies encourage responsible cat ownership.
For further information on desexing or how to microchip your cat please contact you're nearest veterinarian.
For a colour brochure with pictures in PDF format, click on the link below.