When I was out and about on my patch o’ dirt a while back, I spotted a cat. That mightn’t sound like such a big deal, but my patch is out in the middle of nowhere. Worse still, this cat had a collar; but judging by the looks of him, he was a new convert to the ranks of feral cats. Domestic cats don’t take long to go wild.
I was absolutely furious that this killing machine was loose on my property which is home to a wide range of Australian fauna.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard cat owners say “my cat doesn’t kill wildlife”. If a cat is healthy, it will hunt, regardless of whether it is domesticated or feral. It’s got nothing to do with good and bad, it’s just instinct and not the cat’s fault. A cat that doesn’t hunt is the exception rather than a rule.
Then I get back to the burbs and find an increasing number of cats making our home theirs; driving our dogs nuts and killing native birds in our yard.
I’m not alone in my frustration, I’ve been reading similar things from other angry people. The flow on effects can be quite serious as the killing of native animals aside, trespassing cats can heighten tensions between neighbors through dogs barking.
The crazy thing is that as dog owners, we must register our dogs, keep them on our premises and keep them on leads when taking them out for a walk. The fines for not doing so are substantial. Even if they bark too much within the confines of our yards, we risk a visit from council; which is fair enough. There’s nothing wrong with those laws, they are good and I totally support them. But when it comes to cats? No real laws, not here anyway.
And the problem seems to be getting worse, so what the hell is going on?
The RSPCA (our national humane society) say the increase of stray cats may be linked to global warming. Over the last couple of months, I’ve also been reading increasing stories of cats being trapped.. and not in humane traps.
People are just getting sick of them. Cat populations in cities such as Melbourne are at crisis point with an estimated half a *million* strays on their streets. All those strays need to eat and they aren’t confining their diets to mice.
I certainly do not advocate steel jaw traps or other cruel means for capturing stray cats, but cat owners need to understand that a cat off their premises has the capacity to disrupt the peace of neighborhoods, kill a lot of small animals and breed a new generation of killers if unspayed.
Cats become feral very quickly and within just a couple of generations of breeding out in the wild, even their bodies change to become more suited to the environment; becoming bigger and much more robust.
I published an article a while back on “greening your cat” but my most important tips are to keep them on on your property and spay them. If you do both these things, it’s cause be proud; because in these parts you’d certainly be one of the few.
At the risk of alienating some of my cat loving readers, it’s my opinion that if cat owners can’t do these two basic things, they simply shouldn’t own one. Domestic cats in the home are pets – outside of your home boundaries and roaming free; they are just disruptive and destructive vermin.