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Feral cats in Canberra. What to do?

By gentoopenguin - 5 July 2012 39

I live in a complex not that far from a nature reserve. Earlier this year, kittens start to show up in the complex grounds that clearly don’t belong to anyone. They live under cars, in the common gardens and around the skips. Now those kittens have turned into cats and they like to fight/breed with each other at night and (one can only presume) eat the local birdlife and wildlife given the proximity to the nature reserve.

I previously contacted the RSPCA for advice and was told to hire a cage and catch the cats individually then bring them down to their Weston shelter.  Given there are at least three groups of different cats that I’ve seen, that’s a lot of catching!  I’m no expert on cats but I imagine it’s not that easy to catch them and they would learn quickly how the trap works. Plus the idea of an untrained person catching feral cats carrying god knows what disease doesn’t seem very sensible to me.

So today I rang TAMS  and they also suggested the trap hire from the RSCPA and putting up signs to tell neighbours not to feed the cats so they will “hopefully move on elsewhere”. I will put up a sign but the other suggestion of moving the problem on seems strange. You would assume the aim should be to protect local birdlife and wildlife. I also thought TAMS might have a more coordinated approach to feral animals in the ACT than hoping for well-minded but untrained Joe Citizens to be a ferry service to the RSPCA.

Since TAMS and RSPCA don’t seem able/willing/funded to undertake coordinated action, are there any legal privately funded alternatives?

What’s Your opinion?


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39 Responses to
Feral cats in Canberra. What to do?
cantdance 9:38 pm 05 Jul 12

What does everyone think feral cats ate before humans came along? It’s called the food chain. If you’re going to try to stop feral cats from eating birds and other wildlife then I suggest you stop humans from eating meat.

Anyhoo… to the original poster, we once had a nuisance feral cat terrorising our cat and we had success with putting out a trap. We went to all the neighbours to let them know and they kept their cats indoors for 2 nights where possible to avoid having a pet cat trapped by mistake. A small piece of raw beef in the trap worked well.

threepaws 3:43 pm 05 Jul 12

Antagonist said :

threepaws said :

Or perhaps feral cats are eating rats and mice? I would have thought that a healthy adult bird would be capable of escaping a cat, and if not, then there are a host of other reasons in which it may meet an unfortunate end.

Anecdotally, I see neighbourhood cats stalking birds all the time in my local area (seriously people – keep your cats indoors) but I have never witnessed a cat catch a bird, nor seen any evidence of a deceased bird. I have however seen plenty of vulnerable birds being pecked to death by crows, attacked by dogs, and flattened on the road.

Feral cats are easy to blame, but I suspect no one actually knows for sure what they feed on. They are likely to be opportunistic feeders.

Are you for real? I can google about 1000 pics of cats catching/eating wildlife. I don’t imagine it would be difficult to reference a few thousand studies that also the impact of feral cats on Australian wildlife. I call bulls**t.

Humans are by far the greatest threat to native wildlife.

At least we can agree on that part.

I’m glad we can agree on something 🙂 I think you have misunderstood where I am coming from. I am not saying that ferals are good and we need to save all the ferals, I am saying that simply trapping them and removing them is likely to be ineffective in actually managing the population of cats.

I can use Google too, not just for images, but for words as well. Results of a study in Canberra show that of native animals killed by domestic (not feral) cats, 64% were rodents, and 14% were birds.

I’m not saying that feral cats don’t kill some wildlife – of course they do. I am saying that before you lean back in your chair and start blaming declining bird populations on feral cats, consider that a) they may actually be doing some good by keeping rodent populations down and b) they are not solely to blame for the decline in population of native species.

Antagonist 3:26 pm 05 Jul 12

threepaws said :

Or perhaps feral cats are eating rats and mice? I would have thought that a healthy adult bird would be capable of escaping a cat, and if not, then there are a host of other reasons in which it may meet an unfortunate end.

Anecdotally, I see neighbourhood cats stalking birds all the time in my local area (seriously people – keep your cats indoors) but I have never witnessed a cat catch a bird, nor seen any evidence of a deceased bird. I have however seen plenty of vulnerable birds being pecked to death by crows, attacked by dogs, and flattened on the road.

Feral cats are easy to blame, but I suspect no one actually knows for sure what they feed on. They are likely to be opportunistic feeders.

Are you for real? I can google about 1000 pics of cats catching/eating wildlife. I don’t imagine it would be difficult to reference a few thousand studies that also the impact of feral cats on Australian wildlife. I call bulls**t.

Humans are by far the greatest threat to native wildlife.

At least we can agree on that part.

RSPCA_Comms 3:12 pm 05 Jul 12

Thanks gentoopenguin for bringing up this topic.

ABC radio keep an eye on RiotACT, and as such have asked CEO of RSPCA ACT Michael Linke to appear on the drive program with Louise Maher this afternoon. Listen in just after 4pm to hear Michael discuss feral cats.

In the meantime, the RSPCA Knowledgebase has a number of articles that may of interest.

kb.rspca.org.au/afile/462/80/

http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-trap-neuter-return-and-is-it-an-appropriate-strategy-for-the-management-of-unowned-cats_462.html

http://www.rspca.org.au/assets/files/Science/SciSem2007/Seminars07PaperJongman.pdf

http://www.rspca.org.au/assets/files/Science/SciSem2010/SciSem2010-%20Dickman.pdf

Regards,

RSPCA ACT

threepaws 3:04 pm 05 Jul 12

Antagonist said :

threepaws said :

Feral cats are a tough one (no pun intended). It seems that removing them is a pretty poor option, because new cats will just move in and take their place.

There is a program in the US that makes for some interesting reading http://www.aspca.org/adoption/feral-cats-faq.aspx Basically the idea is to trap them, get them desexed, and release them. This stops them breeding and also ‘fills the void’ where other cats may move in.

I don’t think this idea would fly anywhere in Australia, because I doubt people would pay for the desexing out of their own pocket, or in fact even donate to an organisation that was coordinating the trapping and desexing.

Sounds great. Release the cats so they can continue to hunt Australian wildlife. Very well thought out.

Or perhaps feral cats are eating rats and mice? I would have thought that a healthy adult bird would be capable of escaping a cat, and if not, then there are a host of other reasons in which it may meet an unfortunate end.

Anecdotally, I see neighbourhood cats stalking birds all the time in my local area (seriously people – keep your cats indoors) but I have never witnessed a cat catch a bird, nor seen any evidence of a deceased bird. I have however seen plenty of vulnerable birds being pecked to death by crows, attacked by dogs, and flattened on the road.

Feral cats are easy to blame, but I suspect no one actually knows for sure what they feed on. They are likely to be opportunistic feeders.

Humans are by far the greatest threat to native wildlife.

Antagonist 1:59 pm 05 Jul 12

threepaws said :

Feral cats are a tough one (no pun intended). It seems that removing them is a pretty poor option, because new cats will just move in and take their place.

There is a program in the US that makes for some interesting reading http://www.aspca.org/adoption/feral-cats-faq.aspx Basically the idea is to trap them, get them desexed, and release them. This stops them breeding and also ‘fills the void’ where other cats may move in.

I don’t think this idea would fly anywhere in Australia, because I doubt people would pay for the desexing out of their own pocket, or in fact even donate to an organisation that was coordinating the trapping and desexing.

Sounds great. Release the cats so they can continue to hunt Australian wildlife. Very well thought out.

threepaws 1:32 pm 05 Jul 12

Feral cats are a tough one (no pun intended). It seems that removing them is a pretty poor option, because new cats will just move in and take their place.

There is a program in the US that makes for some interesting reading http://www.aspca.org/adoption/feral-cats-faq.aspx Basically the idea is to trap them, get them desexed, and release them. This stops them breeding and also ‘fills the void’ where other cats may move in.

I don’t think this idea would fly anywhere in Australia, because I doubt people would pay for the desexing out of their own pocket, or in fact even donate to an organisation that was coordinating the trapping and desexing.

Also, the TNR program doesn’t mean that the cats will stop fighting, but it may reduce it if the cats are no longer pumped up on testosterone.

Only way to eradicate ferals for sure is to desex all domestic cats that are not used for breeding (the kittens get desexed of course, unless used for breeding) It goes without saying that there is a difference between registered breeders and ‘backyard’ breeders.

If the ACT government could actually enforce their own legislation that states that cats must be desexed before age of first breeding, we may see a result in say, 20 years?

And people, for goodness sakes, keep your cats inside at night (or permanantly). Mr Fluffy may not have wandered off to die, he may be out bush spawning a whole new generation of ferals.

This diagram is a little frightening if you want a pictorial representation of the possible population produced by two single cats – http://www.freewebs.com/sac875/pyramid.gif

carnardly 12:51 pm 05 Jul 12

if there are young kittens, they are likely to be able to be socialised and rehomed. The parents – not so much as they are possibly terrified of humans.

Can I suggest you email barry.catrescue@gmail.com

He and his colleagues may be able to assist – both in trapping and rehoming the suitable ones and youngies.

JazzyJess 11:35 am 05 Jul 12

I had a similar problem when I lived at the bottom of a nature reserve and found TAMS and the RSPCA equally ineffective. They both refer you to the other! The Community Cats website has some useful resources: http://communitycats.com.au/ and so does Cat Rescue: http://www.catrescue.com.au/. I’m going to assume if you live in a complex there is a body corporate. If yes, then why aren’t they dealing with this problem? I’d be interested to know how you get on.

andym 10:54 am 05 Jul 12

Do While cats > 0
Lake.Toss = cats + bag + rock
Call cats.find
End Do

bearlikesbeer 10:51 am 05 Jul 12

I use a possum trap to catch feral cats. Just stick a bit of meat on the hook, and in the morning you’ll likely have a trapped cat. I’m yet to have any problems with cats figuring out the trap. There’s a nice big carry handle on the cage, so little risk of a cranky feral getting a paw through the mesh and scratching the carrier. I’m not sure what kind of training you think people need to trap a cat. The only tricky part is getting the cat out of the cage, and that’s the RSPCA’s job.

There’s always the risk of accidentally trapping a neighbour’s pet cat, but you then have an opportunity to return the pet to your neighbour. If you have feral cats around, your neighbour won’t want his/her cat mixing with them. Feral cats don’t pose a significant health risk to humans, but they pose a serious threat to domestic cats (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, etc).

If you decide to try traps, just remember that it may be many hours between the cat’s capture and your checking of the trap. Ensure the trap is sheltered from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures (a blanket draped over the cage is a good start), and that the captive cat has fresh water. They may be the cat’s final hours of life, but it should still be treated humanely during that period.

gentoopenguin 10:45 am 05 Jul 12

carnardly said :

The only diseases cats can transmit to humans are toxoplasmosis (risk obtained from changing the pooh box or getting pooh germs from an infected cat), fleas and ringworm.

Thanks for the reply, Carnardly. Toxoplasmosis was actually a concern of mine but I didn’t want to make a big song and dance about it in my post because it was intended as raising a general issue. I do, however, have a suppressed immune system at present so going near unpredicatable cats or cat poo isn’t the best idea.

And thanks, Bugmenot – I will report to Fix my Street and add a note about it on the poster I put up!

carnardly 10:13 am 05 Jul 12

The only diseases cats can transmit to humans are toxoplasmosis (risk obtained from changing the pooh box or getting pooh germs from an infected cat), fleas and ringworm.

Of course, cats claws and mouths are full of germs that could give you a bacterial infection if they they clawed the crap out of you. However, most healthy humans have immune systems healthy enough to heal up a cat scratch the same as any old ordinary scratch. I would not be concerned about getting any of the above from simply moving a cat in a trap.

bugmenot 10:07 am 05 Jul 12

Get several people to report it through Fix My Street?
https://www.contact.act.gov.au/

There’s a pets and wildlife category with options for “pests in nature parks” etc. The “hopefully move on elsewhere” comment is pretty idiotic – given the obvious restrictions for indoor pets only in newer suburbs (like Forde).

bundah 9:51 am 05 Jul 12

My only suggestion would be to get as many residents in the complex to forward emails to the minister reminding him that it should be his responsibility to deal with the feral cat problem.Of course if it were not for irresponsible cat owners we would mostly not have this problem.

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