Responsible Cat Ownership

NUISANCE AND FERAL CATS -V- PET CATS

Council receives numerous cat complaints ranging from noisy cat fights in the middle of the night, general nuisance and causing damage. 

Cats are a popular companion animal, however there are many who view cats in a less positive light. The cats' natural hunting instincts pose a threat to native birds and wildlife. Feral cats do even more damage. Cats are collectively blamed for the activities of non-desexed and unwanted cats that survive according to their instincts, threatening wildlife, and aggravating many residents within the Shire. 

Most owners responsibly manage their pets and have them desexed, microchipped and registered.  Responsibly managed cats do not overly threaten the environment; they enjoy being outside during the day; generally stay close to home and kept inside at night. They do not contribute to cats that are euthanized annually.

Nevertheless, Tumut Shire has an abundance of unwanted cats roaming the streets, wreaking havoc on native birds and generally creating a nuisance, as well as breeding like….well cats.   In an effort to resolve this problem, several cat traps are located around towns, as well as many others obtained from Council by irate residents.  

If your cat is caught in a trap, and is chipped and registered (as required by law) it will be returned to you.  If not, it is likely to become one of the growing statistics of unwanted and euthanized cats that costs ratepayers every year to have deal with.

Responsible Cat Ownership

Before buying a cat, you should take the time to ask yourself if you wholeheartedly wish to be a responsible cat owner. If your situation is not suitable to owning a cat, the most responsible thing to do is not to become a cat owner.

To be a responsible cat owner you should:
1. Desex your cat as early possible so that you avoid unwanted kittens
2. Worm your cat so that it and family remain healthy
3. Vaccinate your cat annually against diseases
4. Microchip and register your cat
5. Keep a recent photo of your cat in case of loss so it’s easy to identify
6. Keep your cat indoors especially at night. Cats that are allowed to roam at night not only kill wildlife, they are also three times more likely to be killed by cars, dogs or fighting
7. Put a collar and bells on your cat. This will alert wildlife if your cat ventures outside
8. When going on holiday make sure your cat is looked after
9. Never feed stray cats as it encourages them to hang around and can spread disease to your own cat or other pets
10. Never dump a cat. If you can’t look after it, find it another home or try and rehome it through an animal welfare group such as the Animal Welfare League or Cat Protection Society ‹‹ 
11. Never allow your cat to bite and scratch. Seek advice from a vet or animal behaviour specialist

The Law and Cat Owner Responsibilities

In NSW more than 150,000 cats and dogs are lost or stolen every year. In many cases the owner cannot be contacted. In order to ensure you can be contacted the Companion Animals Act 1998 requires all cats and dogs in NSW to be microchipped and registered.

The Act requires all cats and dogs to be microchipped by the age of 12 weeks (or earlier if changed hands), and registered for life by the age of six months.

All animal identification (microchipping) information is entered onto the NSW Companion Animals Register, which is administrated by the Division of Local Government. 

When pet owners obtain a kitten (through purchase, free to good home or gifts) it must be microchipped before sale. The original owner must complete a change of ownership to the new owner’s name through their local Council using the Change of Details Form.

Protecting Wildlife

All cats are natural hunters and do not have to be hungry to hunt. Cats are an introduced species to Australia and native fauna have not adapted to cats as natural predators. This has upset the natural balance as cats are very efficient hunters. As a result cats have had a devastating effect on many species of wildlife.

Your cat can be well fed and happy, but may still hunt our wildlife. Cats are opportunistic hunters, preying on small animals they encounter. Their senses are finely tuned for movement, scent or the noise of prey. They are extremely patient and can sit and wait for hours at the entrance to a burrow or near a bird’s nest.

Research has shown that cats seek out particular areas for hunting, such as bushland. They also make repeated visits to successful hunting grounds.

Tumut Shire is home to a large range of native animals. Some of these animals are now so rare they are protected under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. The hunting activity of just one cat can quickly decimate a local population of some of these threatened species, such as possums, birds and other creatures.

Native animals that cats like to hunt include:
possums
bandicoots
marsupial mice
gliders
bats
snakes
lizards
frogs
birds
Young animals are particularly vulnerable, such as baby birds or possums. A cat that is allowed to hunt freely can easily kill up to 25 native animals each year.

Mother cats bring live prey home to allow their kittens to practice hunting.

Cats can spread disease to native animals through bites and scratches. For example, a disease known as toxoplasmosis, which can cause blindness and damage to the nervous and respiratory systems, can be passed through a cat’s saliva to animals and even people.

Wound infection is common in native animals after a cat attack and few survive longer than 36 hours.

Dealing with Nuisance Cats

It is an offence for cats to wander on private property without the property owner’s consent. If you have wandering cats on your property, you can try a number of means to discourage them:
Utilise products available from nurseries and pet shops to deter cats.
Ensure that your pet's food is not left outside to entice cats and that your garbage bin lids are closed.
Try to ascertain who the owner of the cat is. This can help make the owner aware of their cat's habits and may increase the likelihood of steps being taken to control their activities.
If you are not comfortable speaking with the owner, please call Council’s Ranger on 02 6941 2555 during business hours and we will educate the owner on the cat laws and provide suggestion to ensure they can comply with the requirements.
If problems persist, there is a formal complaint process which council uses and council can take more serious measures which can include fines, control orders and even court action.
Cat Traps
Cat traps are available from Council, 76 Capper Street, Tumut upon completion of an application form.
By completing the application form you are acknowledging that you are legally responsible to either deposit of the cat at the Council Cat Pound drop-off pen or if the cat is feral and violent contact the Ranger during business hours to have it collected. Once the cat is trapped, you must ensure humane and correct return/disposal procedures are followed.
There is a bond payment of approximately $50 required for the use of the cat trap. The bond will be returned to you after the trap is returned to Council. 
If you do not return the trap or if the trap is damaged, your bond will be retained by Council to purchase a replacement trap.

Below are some steps on capturing a nuisance cat:
Bait – Sardines can be put into an open plastic bag or cut-off end of an old stocking and attached to the hook within trap.
Cover trap with hessian bag, towel or blanket leaving the open end uncovered.
Trap is not to be left unattended for more than 12 hours.
If trap is occupied with a cat / dog when checked, please either deposit it at the Council pound or contact the Council Ranger during regular business hours.       Note: Council does not collect caught cats outside of regular business hours so if you are unable to deposit the animal at the Council pound, it is best not to set the trap on weekends.
The animal will be taken by the Ranger and the owner will be attempted to be identified. The owner will be contacted and issued with a warning or infringement.  If the animal is not able to be identified it will be kept for seven (7) working days. If it is not claimed it will then be re-homed through a rescue agency or euthanized.