Regardless of where you sit in the cat spectrum, you will readily admit that cats catch and kill stuff. However, the extent to which they do this will vary from ‘they mostly catch rats and mice and are therefore environmentally benign/beneficial’, to ‘they are responsible for an avian genocide’. A recent US study mounted cameras on cats and recorded their activities. While only 30% of roaming cats kill prey (an average of two per week), those that do only bring home a quarter of what they catch. So for every mouse (or bird) that Tiddles shows you, there are likely to be three more corpses left out in the garden.
Gareth Mogan provides some frightening statistics on cat predation of native fauna, so what should be our approach be to this reality? At the moment there are no restrictions on the number of cats that can be kept, there is no registration requirement and cats are free to wander as and where they please.
Contrast this with our closest neighbour; where our ‘cultures’ is so interchangeable that nearly 60,000 Kiwis a year go there with the ease of moving to a neighbouring town – though you might be surprised if you want to take your moggy with you. In Victoria legislation requires: registration, permanent identification, restrictions on numbers kept, mandatory de-sexing and secure confinement to the owner’s premises.
“Did you know…
Your neighbours are entitled to enjoy their garden without your cat or dog roaming onto their property killing birds, digging or leaving excrement in their garden. If your neighbour asks you to stop your cat or dog from coming onto their property, you must do so. If your animal strays onto their land without permission more than once, it can be seized and you may be fined or prosecuted.”
Melbourne also encourages you to keep your cat inside at night for the sake of you, your cat and anything that they might catch.
Clearly we are a long way from this level of prescription, but the question is, if the Australians accept regulations to help control an equivalent impact on their native fauna, why can’t we?
While Gareth Morgan is being deliberately provocative, he is on the right track. As a start sign his on-line petition calling for registration and chipping of all cats.