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Total cat containment, yeah right!

By John Hargreaves - 6 April 2015 85

cats cuddled on bed

I noted an article recently bagging out cats in the suburbs and calling for the ACT to be a total cat containment area. This article contained all the hyperbole of the notion of cats roaming en masse throughout the suburbs killing at random all the native wildlife. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Starting off my response to this stuff, I should say I agree that a couple of streets bordering nature reserves ought to be designated as cat containment areas but this is a reaction to the ignorance of cat owners rather than the killing nature of moggies.

I have had cats all my adult life. In fact, I have two now, one 16 years old and the other 16 months old (pictured above). I had one cat in Lyneham, Higgins, Farrer and Gowrie, with others joining the old girl before coming to Wanniassa. The old girl was way behind the (in my view, somewhat suss) kill rate of native animals and birds. When she was young, she brought home the odd sparrow and the odd mouse. But she never roamed more than our adjacent homes. Hopeless really but cute and a great companion.

The others had and have similar records, with the odd silvereye falling prey because it ventured along with its hundreds of mates into the trees in my yard, to commune with the numerous crimson rosellas, king parrots, eastern rosellas, not to mention the magpies and currawongs, galahs, pink and grey cockatoos, sparrows, indian mynahs, honeyeaters, and crested pigeons. They’re all really scared of our cats! Not!

The only disturbance I get is the commotion from the marauding non-sexed male roamer who comes into my yard and monsters my little mates. Irresponsible owners it has.

The issue is desexing the little blighters. There should be penalties, and confiscation, of cats found and not desexed. It is actually the law nowadays that all kittens, except those for whom breeding licences are issued, be desexed, I think at six weeks or so. So anyone not complying with the law, actually breaks it but the penalties are hardly greater than a smack with a wet lettuce.

My cats are, and always have been tattooed, desexed, vaccinated and microchipped. I do this as a protection for them as much as a responsible thing to do as a good citizen.

I give my little mates lots of attention, a good food and water supply and the run of the house with a cat door. In return, they patrol my yard, keeping the elephants and rhinos out (with good effect, I’ll tell you); they visit next door but don’t go further than the house across the road. They sleep most of the night because they have no reason to go roaming. The desexing of males and females neuters the need to have sex. I know this because they have a greater share of the bed than I do and they don’t like being disturbed when I move.

So the real issue is that we should be making people act responsibly when living with moggies and if they don’t, they lose the moggy and some dollars to boot.

I reckon that there aren’t too many legless lizards, endangered species of small marsupials and threatened species of birds around the Erindale shopping centre, in fact in Wanniassa at all. If they do exist, they are in the nature park across the busy Sulwood Drive. The further you go into Tuggeranong, the less likely you will encounter these animals and birds.

The term domestic shorthair (used to describe my two moggies) is predicated on the animals being, (wait for it!) – domesticated, they are a companion animal. It is only when they are neglected, abused, underfed, allowed to be sexually whole, that they become unmanageable. In other words it is our fault, not theirs.

In closing, for now, I remind readers that my 16-year-old, Andy, was the kitten to whom fireworks were strapped, set alight with kerosene and left to explode, before being rescued by my daughter. The real animals here were those young men who thought it funny to torture a kitten with fireworks.

Wanna know why I was behind the push to ban fireworks here? Oh, and… how about we concentrate a bit more on dogs?

You show me proof that a domestic cat put a child in hospital by mauling it, or brought down a kangaroo in an adjacent nature reserve, or a sheep in a paddock and I’ll say OK, don’t worry anymore about feral dogs, worry about domestic cats.

What’s Your opinion?


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85 Responses to
Total cat containment, yeah right!
BerraCitizen 12:23 pm 07 Apr 15

Restricting cats that have lived their whole life with access to the outdoors is the equivalent of caging wild birds. My cats are indoor / outdoor cats and I wouldn’t have bought them if I knew that they would be one day restricted to being indoor cats. The thought of full containment in Canberra is ridiculous. I have no issue in suburbs that border sensitive nature areas. If they are going to do it in full across Canberra, I’d prefer it only applies to cats obtained from a certain date onward. Cats are like any other animal that likes to stretch their legs.

Dogs aren’t allowed to wander freely because A) I’ve never heard of a cat that has killed a child nor seriously injured a human. Deaths or serious injury from dogs has happened numerous times in Oz. B) My cats aren’t going to leave a hot stinking t*rd in the middle of your lawn.

Comparing cats and dogs is stupid in this regard. We all know cats are more independent than dogs and have more of a free spirit. This comes with pros and cons depending on your view. I personally like both cats and dogs. Our family chose cats because we live a busy lifestyle and wanted pets with less maintenance i.e. you don’t have to walk a cat.

Genie 12:09 pm 07 Apr 15

I don’t like it when other animals take a dump in my yard either.. But the ACT Government wont lock up the kangaroos, foxes and possums that I have on my property most nights.

What about those foxes that just LOVE to get into people yards and eat up all their chooks ?

Or I was out at Yass on the weekend where the farm owners mentioned they have eagles in the area, so they have to make sure their puppies and small animals are watched at all times. They’ve in fact seen hares scooped up on many occasions and previously lost pet rabbits and puppies in the past.

Cats aren’t the only “wild” creature killing wildlife.

hgws 11:30 am 07 Apr 15

If you really care about your cats, why aren’t you considering that indoor cats typically have healthier lives than outdoor cats? (see e.g. http://adelaidevet.com.au/pet-library/how-long-do-cats-live-ageing-and-your-feline ) I don’t currently own cats, but I would like to in the future. As part of that ownership I would much prefer being able to see my beloved pet at all times rather than letting it run loose where who knows what could happen to it (let alone missing out on the chance to interact with it, which for me is the whole point of owning a cat). If desexed domesticated cats are so manageable, then keeping them indoors shouldn’t be a problem.

Besides, with all the irrational cat phobia that these debates usually provoke, I’d also like to make sure that my cat is safe from being traumatised by sadists.

Solidarity 8:58 am 07 Apr 15

Not to mention all of the cats that go feral and create populations of feral cats, I saw a massive one run straight up the Isaacs Ridge.

For every responsible cat owner, there are 4 that just don’t care.

There are posts all over Canberran Community pages offering cats for free as someones moggy has spawned a litter of more of them.

If I had my way they would go the way of the plastic bag. Just buy a toy Poodle or some other yap yap dog if you really must have a small furry thing that converts food into poo.

Narcobear 11:57 pm 06 Apr 15

Invasive pest species. No rightful place in Australia.

Owning a cat in a semi-rural setting like Canberra should be a crime

Lock em up or put em down

Chrissie333 10:56 pm 06 Apr 15

This is a tough one… I have owned cats and I’ve loved them and been a very responsible cat owner.

Unfortunately, there will always be people out there who have had bad experiences with cats and they will forever be tainted by those bad experiences.

Just because a cat ate your bird or attacked your bunny rabbit, doesn’t mean that all cats are going to do this. My 1st cat was a fat, lazy ball of butter and my other cat was a sweet, timid rescue cat who lay in the sun and never left our backyard. Both of them were always inside at night. I think that’s the main problem with cat owners. They shouldn’t be allowed outside at night.

I believe it is the owners fault, not the cats.

I now have a dog and no cats… And when we go for walks, there is always some idiot with their dog not on a lead and we either have to avoid it or deal with the consequences of it bounding toward us for whatever reason.

Again, the owners fault, not the animal.

Nightshade 10:15 pm 06 Apr 15

Kalfour said :

I have had pets killed by cats. Not feral cats- domestic ones.

Likewise. I had two pet birds killed by our next-door neighbour’s cat, inside our house. On two occasions the cat got inside unnoticed, and each time, killed one of our birds. Neighbourhood cats have also caused damage to my property, and currently, someone has established a toilet in my front yard.

I’m with Roksteddy, Kalfour and Mysteryman – if you want a cat, fine – but keep it at your place. I don’t want it at mine.

Mysteryman 8:55 pm 06 Apr 15

Roksteddy said :

My dog isn’t allowed to wander freely into your backyard. Why should your cat be allowed into mine?
I don’t want it. Keep it out.

Kalfour said :

I have had pets killed by cats. Not feral cats- domestic ones.
They have come into my yard and attacked my aviary birds and free roaming poultry. A couple of times they have caused serious injury, and twice they have killed my pets.
A friend of mine has a cat who once brought home a dead guinea pig.
I own guinea pigs, and would like to let them free roam by day and only be locked up at night. But I can’t, because they are vulnerable to cats. So they only leave the hutch under supervision. Why should my pets, that are confined to my yard, have to suffer because of cat owner self-entitlement?
And your cat probably killed a lot of things that you never saw.
There are definitely protected species of birds and lizards around Erindale.
I regularly keep a cat trap. If I catch a cat, feral or domestic, I take it to the RSPCA where the owner has to pay a fine to collect it.
I don’t want them in my yard and I shouldn’t have to.

That should answer you question, John.

I don’t want your cats, or anyone else’s, in my yard. Ever. I don’t want them interfering with the pets I keep, or the activities I undertake in my yard (gardening, for instance). I also won’t take responsibility for any danger that should befall them if they make their way uninvited onto my property.

They should never leave your property without supervision.

Masquara 8:28 pm 06 Apr 15

John, unless you put a tracker on those cats over several nights you have no way of knowing how far they roam at night. Also, cats don’t always bring their kill back to you as a pressie. Unless you can prove to yourself that you aren’t just trusting your darlings not to roadm, you should really contain them at night AND double-bell them during the day.

creative_canberran 7:04 pm 06 Apr 15

Hi John, I want to congratulate you on entering a new stage of your life. Many a once important person has entered the angry letter writing stage of life, cobbling together some facts in a stream of consciousness to express their outrage at some perceived wrong while trying to stay relevant.

Your opinion is irresponsible, offers no evidence other than personal anecdotes and demonstrates little knowledge of cat behaviour. Worse though, you demonstrate a callous disregard for native wildlife. You remind me of the white man who first saw Aborigines, dismissed their presence, then set about civilising them, because he knows best. To hell with the natural order.

Kalfour 6:45 pm 06 Apr 15

I have had pets killed by cats. Not feral cats- domestic ones.
They have come into my yard and attacked my aviary birds and free roaming poultry. A couple of times they have caused serious injury, and twice they have killed my pets.
A friend of mine has a cat who once brought home a dead guinea pig.
I own guinea pigs, and would like to let them free roam by day and only be locked up at night. But I can’t, because they are vulnerable to cats. So they only leave the hutch under supervision. Why should my pets, that are confined to my yard, have to suffer because of cat owner self-entitlement?
And your cat probably killed a lot of things that you never saw.
There are definitely protected species of birds and lizards around Erindale.
I regularly keep a cat trap. If I catch a cat, feral or domestic, I take it to the RSPCA where the owner has to pay a fine to collect it.
I don’t want them in my yard and I shouldn’t have to.

Roksteddy 5:40 pm 06 Apr 15

My dog isn’t allowed to wander freely into your backyard. Why should your cat be allowed into mine?
I don’t want it. Keep it out.

Roksteddy 5:35 pm 06 Apr 15

John, your argument, as always, is full of holes.
How do you know your cats never strayed further than your neighbours? How did you know where they were while you were at work? Were you radiotracking them? And while they were out of your sight, how do you know they weren’t killing? Just because they didnt bring prey home doesn’t mean that they didn’t hunt. You yourself admit they killed silvereyes. Why are they unimportant?
What you say about pet owners generally and about dogs is true, but that doesnt exclude the need for cat management.

HiddenDragon 5:33 pm 06 Apr 15

I’m not a cat owner, but I’m with you on this one, John.

It’s fairly obvious that the push is on, and there’s a co-ordinated media and political campaign underway – I suppose it’s too much to hope that enough (to count) Canberrans will decide they’ve had it with the relentless march of interfering political correctness and draw a line in the sand (or perhaps that should be in the kitty litter) on this one.

While I’m being provocative, the coverage of the claimed kill rate of cats has caused me to wonder, from time time, about the ecological impact of possums – I believe they are not strictly herbivore and will go after smaller animals and birds.

bd84 4:22 pm 06 Apr 15

Your cats only killed the odd sparrow or mouse? Gee that’s okay then, if they they kill sometimes! and those are the kills you know about because you wouldn’t have a clue what it did while wondering the neighbourhood…

You can do all the registering, microchipping and desexing.. Doesn’t make a difference when you open the door and wave goodbye as they run to roam the street.. You have no control as to whether they’re killing birds or lizards, fighting with other cats or taking a dump in their backyard. You have no control at that point.

No other pet is allowed to run free in the neighbourhood, especially ones that have killing tendencies. Cats should be no different. Lock them up like all other pets, inside or have a cat run in the backyard.

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