Keep your cat at home

Around a quarter of our bush capital’s households are shared by our feline friends.

Canberra is a perfect place for cat lovers. Cats are such an important part of contemporary society, providing unconditional love and companionship to so many.

It therefore makes sense that, in return, we provide them with a safe, happy home.

But have you ever wondered what Fluffy might get up to when not at home? Roaming the streets of suburbia? Meandering through a nature reserve that so many of us enjoy living close to.

For our native wildlife, this means they are often vulnerable to predation from our cats.

Given their natural instincts to simply play, even with a full tummy, domestic cats continue to hunt.Cats react to rapid movement, so small birds and reptiles often fall victim to their antics of playful preying. Left uneaten or brought back home as a trophy to be shared with the family, domestic cats are supreme little hunters.

Research has shown that this residential kill regime matches that of feral cats. Clearly—and unfortunately—our household companions can have a negative impact upon our native wildlife.

Scientific evidence tells us cats have contributed to the extinction of more than 20 Australian mammals. In the bush capital roaming pet cats are estimated to predate on 60,000 native birds, 2,000 native mammals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6,000 native frogs every year.

That’s a lot.

So, it’s critical that we have a community conversation about how we can all work to protect our environment from preying cats. Without community support we will continue to see animal welfare issues along with significant environment impacts from cats.

As a community, we have been invited to comment on a new draft ACT Cat Plan, which seeks to strike a better balance. The draft plan supports a vision where all cats will have a home and be cared for by responsible pet owners.

The plan sets out a range of cat management issues and, importantly, outlines proposed actions to help achieve this vision, including cat containment, de-sexing and controlling the spread of feral cats across our environment.

With the plan crafted in the context of responsible pet ownership, it’s a wonderful opportunity for all animal lovers, nature lovers and the general community to provide their thoughts by completing the online survey, attending an information session, or contributing a submission.

To find out more and have your say, www.yoursay.act.gov.au

Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared on 9 March 2019 in The Chronicle