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Cats - natural born killers

Did you know that yours is a natural born killer ?
Many of us love cats. They are great companions and pretty cute.   But lying hidden beneath their warm and fuzzy cuteness cats are swift and silent killers.

Did you know that today they number more than 500 million worldwide?  Should this mean that we rethink our relationship with cats ? Consider this.  

Domestic cats, and this means our pet cats, are active hunters searching for prey much further afield than we imagine.  Instinctively cats are excellent predators and consequently they are major threat to native wildlife.  And cats are survivors.  You’ve heard they have 9 lives !  If caring for your pet cat goes unchecked it not only increases their numbers but they can also become feral/wild, surviving on native wildlife and often becoming very large and powerful killers.  Unfortunately Australia has the world's worst record for mammal extinctions and this continues to rise; 28 species and subspecies, mostly marsupials, have become extinct since Europeans arrived, and many of these extinctions are linked to cats and other introduced species.

Extensive research in the United States has found that cats are the biggest human-linked cause of death for native animals, having a bigger impact on them than habitat destruction, pesticides, pollution and collisions with cars – also all regarded as pressing conservation issues.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), runs private conservation reserves across the nation in an attempt to retain our precious genepools of biodiversity and protect our native flora and fauna.  It has recently estimated that there are  5-18 million feral cats destroying  native species such as bilbies and numbats. Each cat takes 5-30 animals a night, says the AWC, so (using a conservative population estimate of 15 million) they conclude that a minimum of 75 million native animals are killed daily. This is a distressing figure !  What can be done ?

The Australian government says that currently it isn't feasible to eradicate feral cats on the mainland The scale of the problem is enormous, so the best hope for some endangered native mammal and bird species is that populations will be fostered on cat-free islands, or in fenced enclosures of the kind the Australian Wildlife Conservancy creates. 

How to live with your pet cats and also minimize their impact on wildlife?

Most people wouldn't consider letting their dog run free in the neighbourhood, so why is it acceptable for cats? Perhaps it's time to rethink the management of your pet cat if you have one ?

1  Keeping your cat in at night can reduce the kills it makes by half. 

2  Cats should also wear a collar with a bell, or, even better, a sonar beeper that produces high-pitched tones, which doesn't bother cats, but alerts birds to their presence.

3  Neutering stops cats breeding and makes them less likely to roam and hunt. Your vet would be very happy to help you out with this. Vets will also euthanase feral cats.

4  Build your cat a large outdoor play cage for use during the day. Some local Councils are considering introducing this as a requirement for cat ownership.

5  Consider replacing  your cat with another cuddly pet that doesn’t have the killer instinct !

6  Make your current pet cat your last one.

 If you’re an animal lover spare a thought for our native wildlife. 

For further advice feel free to contact the Batesford/Fyansford/Stonehaven Landcare Group or the Geelong Landcare Network.