CAT FACTS

 

This may seem like a strange article to include in a magazine about marsupials but we have a number of enquiries recently about cat related issues whilst  keeping marsupials, not the least of which is a condition called Toxoplasmosis which is a disease carried by all cats, both domestic and feral.   The following may assist in planning your surrounds.

Ed.

 

What is responsible cat ownership?

 

Responsible cat owners care for their cat and keep it healthy.   They prevent it from taking wildlife and from breeding freely.   They don’t let their cat disrupt their neighbours’ lives.   They don’t feed or encourage strays but ask neighbours if they own the cat.   If not, they catch it and take it to the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League, or ask them for advice on how to catch cats.

 

What are the benefits of responsible cat ownership?

 

Cats are docile, intelligent and clean companion animals.  They help teach children about responsibility and relationships.   They give affection, comfort and companionship to their owners.   The lonely and elderly keep alert and active by physical contact with cats.

 

How much does responsible cat ownership cost?

 

Desexing - costs vary but are less for males than females and overall the younger the cat the cheaper the op.

Vaccinations - a cat has 2 in the first year followed by annual boosters.

Enclosed area in the yard; cattery fees for when you are on holidays; the costs vary.

 

Every new cat incurs the initial desexing and vaccinations costs.   Once a cat gets past its first two years, it will probably live to a ripe old age.   Desexed, confined cats have a much higher chance of surviving the first two years than fertile, free-ranging cats.  They have fewer injuries from road accidents and from fights with other animals.   As a responsible cat owner, you have fewer visits to and bills from the vet.

 

Why desex my cat?

 

A desexed cat lives longer, wanders less and is easier to own and care for and, many say, makes a better pet.   It is less likely to have the nasty habits of fertile animals: fighting, spray-marking territories and urinating on the carpet.   Cats are prolific breeders.   In a population of cats, if as few as 2.5% are fertile the population can be perpetuated.   More sterile cats mean fewer unwanted litters of kittens.   Fewer strays means humans, other companion animals and wildlife are better protected.

 

A female cat does not benefit from having a litter or coming into season before being desexed.

 

Why confine my cat?

 

Even well-fed cats may hunt by instinct.   They hunt, often at night, and often over wide areas and long distances.   This is when and why they can get run over.   If your cat is confined at night you can be confident that your cat is safer and so is the wildlife.

 

How can I confine my cat?

 

You don’t have to confine your cat indoors and make your nights a misery.   Any enclosed space, a shed or an old aviary, can be made comfortable for your cat.   You can connect an enclosed area outside to the house through a cat flap quite cheaply.   Kittens can easily be trained to sleep in the laundry. Confinement is not cruel as long as you provide food, water, shelter, a litter tray, a warm place to sleep, exercise and sunbathing areas, and scratching and climbing places.

 

You wouldn’t let your children roam the streets.  Why let your cat be run over or just run away?

 

What if I’m an irresponsible cat owner?

 

Your cat may breed prolifically, adding to the already large population of strays. If you dump the kittens they will become feral or die a slow painful death.   What’s out of sight is still your responsibility.   If you decide that the kittens must die take them to an organisation who will kill them humanely.   Horrible isn’t it.   Much easier to have the cat desexed.

 

If your cat is confined it can’t stray and won’t get run over.   It won’t pick up diseases from other cats.  You and your children won’t have to go through the trauma of the loss and the expense of starting off with another cat, and another, and another.

 

 

Neighbourly relations often break down over the damage a roaming cat does - defecating, spraying, cat fighting.   Controlling your cat you will help you stay friends with your neighbours.

 

An Australia-wide survey showed that an average domestic cat brings home 16 mammals, 8 birds and 8 reptiles a year.  Some cats more, some less.  Most cats don’t bring everything home.  There are about 200,000 domestic cats in Adelaide.   That’s millions of animals being killed each year in Adelaide alone.   And about half these animals are native.

 

 

How can I help stop cats preying on native animals?

 

Have your cat desexed and confine it.   Encourage others to do the same.

 

How can I encourage others to be responsible cat owners?

 

Give them this fact sheet.   Encourage them to see the consequences of a stray or dumped domestic cat.   Offer to help them get their cat desexed and build an enclosure.

 

What can I do to discourage cats from coming on to my property and still be neighbourly?

 

If you are sure the cat is owned, speak to the owners.   If they confine it, it won’t be a nuisance.   Otherwise, the humane ways to deter the cat from coming into your garden are to spray the cat with the hose, scare it away with noise, leave moth balls or camphor flakes around your property and spread aluminium foil at entry points.

 

But the first thing to do is to talk to the owner about your common problem.

 

REMEMBER: WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOUR CAT IS GOOD FOR YOU AND WILDLIFE TOO.

 

“Cat Facts” was prepared in consultation with the Department of Environment and Planning, Community Education; South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Cat Working Party and Animal Welfare Office; RSPCA; Animal Welfare League; Feline Association of South Australia; Veterinary Surgeons; and Researchers from the Department of Zoology. The University of Adelaide.

 
 
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