Australia mulls putting cats on lockdown — Analysis

Local authorities Down Under are looking to isolate cats – not due to some kind of new virus, but rather their outstanding hunting talents

Officials believe that Australia is about to have a 24/7 nationwide lockdown on cats. This comes after figures show that feline hunters kill billions of native Australian animals each year.

“The latest statistics show that every year they [pet cats] predate more than 180 native animals; that’s just one pet cat,”ABC interviewed Dean Huxley as an operations director of a Perth-based wildlife hospital.

The total number of kills for one feral cat stands at over 740 per year, according to the 2019 book ‘Cats in Australia: Companion and Killer’, which combined hundreds of studies on the issue.

The result is that every day, cats in Australia kill three million mammals, two millions reptiles, one million marsupials, and approximately two million reptiles. And, according to Huxley, the death toll will only keep growing if something isn’t done.

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“Cats are evolving and learning about the different wildlife and they’re now getting better at hunting these animals,”He pointed it out. “And the more we clear habitat, which we are doing at an alarming rate, these animals have got less places to hide.”

Local authorities in Australia have begun to restrict the hunting of felines, as a way to protect endemic species.

Victoria’s Greater Bendigo has ordered cat owners to ensure their cats are on the property. Adelaide Hills, South Australia, also enforced a curfew for felines from 8PM to 7AM.

The country’s capital, Canberra, plans to place all of its cats on lockdown starting from mid-2022, and the port city of Fremantle in Western Australia (WA) is also planning a clampdown.

Fremantle currently bans felines from bushland, but Adin Lang (Councilor) wants them to leave all city property including roads and verges. The felines will now be housebound.

Lang said that although his proposal is still subject to approval by the WA legislature, its passage could lead to similar curbs in other parts of Australia.

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“I think like dogs, cats will soon be inside, and our future generations will look back and say to us: ‘You guys let cats roam around Australia, eating all our wildlife all these years?’”He stated.

Their owners might build them houses for their cats. “catio” – a special outdoor enclosure – so they could still get some fresh air, Lang added.

“Cats do adjust very well to captivity,” Huxley agreed, but he added that convincing the owners keeping their pets inside isn’t cruel might not be easy.

Pamela Lanigan of Cats United WA was the spokesperson and said she supported the restrictions. However, she pointed out that the most harm hadn’t been done by pet cats, but by several million of their feral counterparts.

Lanigan suggested that trap-neuter programs be established to control their population. This could be done through the registration fees of cat owners.

“What can be done is they can be trapped, they can be de-sexed and then they can be released back into that environment so they actually can’t reproduce anymore, but they will stop other cats from coming into that environment, and that’s something that’s done a lot in America,”She explained.

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