Keeping Cats and Wildlife Safe
Cats are one of the most popular pets around the world because they are great animals to live with. They are intelligent, loving, beautiful, interesting and full of personality.
It is important to educate and train well our cats when we chose to have them as pets. They are an important part of the family, and as such, they must be well cared for.
However, since they are an introduced species, pet, feral and stray cats are one of the biggest problems for our native animals.
Cats are formidable predators: they are very agile, intelligent, fast and adaptable. They can also see well in the dark, are able to climb, jump and hide, and on top of that, they have a strong instinct to hunt, even when they are well fed.
According to a publication by the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP), the number of wildlife killed each year by cats in Victoria is alarming:
Pet cats kill 29 million
Feral cats kill 104 million
Stray cats kill 78 million
Total 211 million (average)
211 million native animals die every year in Victoria due to cats!!! That includes mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.
As cat owners we need to be aware of the great threat that our pets represent for the wildlife. Cats’ continuous predation on our native animals will affect the long term survival of many species. It is important for pet owners to know that cats allowed to go outside, are not only putting wildlife in danger, but the cats are vulnerable to many dangers themselves.
Some of those dangers that outdoor cats are exposed to, include attacks by other cats or dogs, road accidents, getting lost, becoming victims of cruelty, getting infected with illnesses such as the deadly feline AIDS, and much more...
Some statistics show that indoor cats have an average lifespan of 12 years compared with cats allowed to wonder outdoors which have an average lifespan of only 3 years.
Keeping outdoor cats can also be dangerous for our own health. Outside the house, cats can get in contact with rats, cockroaches, decomposed or poisoned animals and other carriers of nasty parasites and germs, which are then passed on to our cats, and then, when they come back home, they could be passed on to us.
Even from the financial point of view, indoor cats are less expensive to maintain because they are not exposed to outdoor dangers, illnesses and injuries and therefore, there will be fewer visits to the vet.
when looking for a pet, consider adopting one of the thousands of unwanted cats looking for a loving home
keeping cats indoors or contained is good for the wildlife, the cats themselves and the family's health
Cats should also be de-sexed. Non de-sexed cats are contributing with a continuously growing population of feral and stray cats, which are putting more stress on wildlife. The conditions in which those cats live are really difficult and many of them end up euthanized or endure injuries, illnesses and horrific deaths.
Unwanted litters are also another problem to deal with when cats are not de-sexed, not to mention the nuisance of fights and noises that occur during mating season.
All animals deserve to be treated responsibly and compassionately.
All this drama can be avoided for the wildlife, the cats and humans if we all take action in more effective and proactive ways. Community education about wildlife and environmental matters, as well as responsible pet ownership is imperative.
Cat curfews should be also promoted not only at night but 24 hours a day. Cats predate on nocturnal birds, possums, gliders and other wildlife during the night, but they also attack other native animals during the day, such as birds, skinks, blue tongued lizards, butterflies and more.
Today there are many alternatives to give cats outdoor experiences but keeping them contained at the same time. Some of them are cat runs which are very diverse and can be adapted to any individual conditions, allowing a harmonious way of living between cats and wildlife.
One of the reasons of the popularity of cats as pets is their capability to adapt to different conditions, including indoor life. In many areas of Europe and USA, where there is not much space to keep active, outdoor pets, cats are the preferred companion for millions of people.
Cats can happily get used to live indoors and the sooner we encourage this practice, the easier it is.
We all need to be aware of the beauty, the importance and the fragility of the environment that surround us. We are very lucky to live in a country as amazing as Australia and we all should make our own contribution to ensure that all those wanders can be enjoyed by many generations to come.
this young sugar glider lost her mother and brother due to a cat attack.
this bat was attacked by a cat, causing injuries, pain and stress.
this baby ringtail possum had an infected puncture bite inflicted by a cat.