It's About Time for Cat Curfews

Care about your cat? Then keep him or her indoors.

That’s the message being sent by a growing number of municipalities implementing “cat curfews” and other legislation intended to keep cats safe indoors.

Wollondilly Shire, near Sydney, is currently considering a night-time cat curfew. In Victoria’s Yarra Ranges, cats must be kept on their guardians’ property 24 hours a day. Western Australia requires all cats to be desexed and microchipped, and South Australia is implementing a similar law.

Such laws are good for both cats and wildlife.
Free-roaming cats are exposed to many dangers, including contagious diseases, speeding cars, poisons, and attacks by dogs, wildlife, and cruel people. Think your cat just hangs out in and around your yard? Think again. A recent University of South Australia study that tracked more than 400 cats found that most of them travelled more than their owners thought – on average, the length of a football field – and even farther at night.

The many hazards cats face on their outdoor excursions take a heavy toll: the average life span of an “outdoor cat” is just 2 to 5 years, compared with an average of 12 to 15 years for cats who live indoors.

Cats, who are not native to Australia, also pose a serious threat to native wildlife, including endangered mammals, reptiles, and birds. Most cat guardians are in denial about how many animals their cats kill.

One study found that owners see only about 23 per cent of the animals their cats catch. Another in the US estimated that free-roaming cats kill billions of wild animals and birds every year, by far the largest human-caused toll on birds. Cats are the most deadly invasive species in the world, responsible or partly responsible for the extinction of 63 species to date.

“If you want to have a pet cat, keep [him or her] indoors because they are hunters. They are beautiful, they are cute and fluffy but they will kill something”, says ecologist Chantel Benbow.

The best way for cats to enjoy the great outdoors is from the safety of a window or screened porch or from a securely fenced, escape-proof enclosure. If your cat is more adventurous, consider taking him or her for walks with a harness and leash or in a “kitty stroller”.
Cats rely on us to keep them safe. Don’t gamble with their welfare: keep them indoors.
Feral cats continue to be the major cause of extinction of many natural and reintroduced populations of mammals and birds and conventional baiting, shooting and trapping are often not sufficient to reduce cat predation rates sufficiently. Cats are reluctant to take baits or enter traps when live prey are abundant. Ecological Horizons have been developing a novel technique that sprays cats with toxic gel that they ingest whilst grooming, hence circumventing the problem of having to lure cats to food baits.

With funding assistance from SA Government Innovation vouchers, SA DEWNR, The Foundation for Australia's Most Endangered Animals, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Bush Heritage Australia, The Government of Australia and Electranet, Ecological Horizons have funded and managed the optimisation of grooming traps by SA engineering design firm Applidyne. The original prototype field tested at Venus Bay CP in 2015 incorporated four rangefinder sensors, a programmable audiolure, a camera that photographs all activations, solar-charged battery and an electric motor-tensioned spring that fires sealed doses of toxic gel at 60m/second. The sensors ensure that animals smaller or larger than a cat or fox do not activate the trap which holds 20 measured doses and can operate without intervention for several months. Five optimised units are being tested in early 2016 at a range of field sites prior to production of more units to be deployed as a sustainable tool to control trap- or bait-shy cats in areas of high conservation value.

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WildLife Rules!: It's About Time for Cat Curfews
It's About Time for Cat Curfews
It's About Time for Cat Curfews
WildLife Rules!
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