On 26 March 2019, the Conservation Council held an Environment Exchange on cat containment in the ACT. The Conservation Council’s holds the position that all of Canberra should have cat containment by 2025, with due consideration given to the protection of wildlife and cat welfare.
Speakers addressed how cat owners can put in place measures that will both protect native wildlife, while also loving their cats. The first guest speaker, Michael Mulvaney, Senior Environmental Planner at EPSDD, gave an overview of his paper (co-authored by Kathy Eyles) on responsible pet ownership and protection of wildlife. Michael highlighted that there are 56,000 domestic cats in the ACT. Pet cats can make incursion into reserves up to 1km. This would translate to approximately 850 household cats roaming on Red Hill each day or night.
Michael’s research estimated that upwards of 10,000 rosellas are killed by cats in Canberra each year. Reptiles were the most predated species within 50m of grasslands and predation of native birds increased closer to woodland habitats. This shows the importance of cat containment in urban areas which are next to nature reserves.
Jane Speechley and Zoya Patel from RSCPA Australia introduced the new RSPCA campaign “Keeping your cat safe and happy at home” – a national effort to educate cat owners and the general public about the animal welfare benefits of cat containment for cats! It’s important to ensure cats have their welfare catered to in indoor environments, with particular regards to food, water, litter, resting and hiding spaces, and enrichment.
Heather Tomlinson from the Environment Directorate then spoke about the policy context and updates on the ACT Government’s cat containment policy. In 2018, 15 suburbs – 12% of ACT suburbs – have cat containment. The ACT government’s draft cat plan will be open for community consultation from April -June 2019.
Make sure you let the ACT Government know that cats need to be contained, to keep them safe, and to keep our native wildlife safe. Let’s make all of Canberra cat continued by 2025.