Latest Community Cat Program Update

In the past month, we have:

  • – desexed over 600 cats in selected Ipswich suburbs;
  • – desexed stray cats and returned them to their outdoor home location through the ‘restricted matter’ permit;
  • – placed a total of 300 cat tracking cameras in the suburbs of Rosewood, Goodna and Redbank Plains;
  • – surveyed over 284 residents in Ipswich about pet ownership and preferred ways of managing stray cats;
  • – surveyed over 237 cat carers who have had their cats desexed through the Community Cat Program

More Details

1. Cat desexing in selected Ipswich suburbs

The first cat we desexed was a female stray believed to be dumped at the local tip. She had already had several litters of kittens. Happily, the local resident who found her agreed to become her registered owner after desexing. This is exactly the kind of positive change we can achieve for stray cats and those who care about them.

Since then we have rolled out free desexing in 5 key Ipswich suburbs with high stray cat numbers. Eventually, we plan to desex over 6000 cats in the selected Ipswich suburbs to reduce cat impoundments from 9 cats per 1000 residents to less than 2 cats per 1000 residents. This will save the lives of countless cats and dogs by reducing the pressure on the local pounds and shelters.

Restricted matter cats

We have Australia’s first permit to desex stray cats and return them to their home location. This means that colonies of cats who are being fed by one or several residents can be desexed, to stop the cycle of kittens being born. Our permit has been secured as part of a scientific study into stray cat management through desexing. If we can prove scientifically that this approach can work, we will be able to lobby for changes to how councils and governments manage stray cats in Australia.

We need more funding to expand the program to all Ipswich suburbs to gather stronger evidence and save more lives. Donate now to help continue this life-saving desexing work.

2. Cat tracking cameras installed

Motion-activated cameras are placed on residential properties with the permission of residents. These have been photographing free-roaming cats and wildlife. We will be comparing this data to street-level surveys that were previously undertaken, and together this data will be used to estimate free-roaming cat and wildlife numbers. By demonstrating a reduction in stray cat numbers we can prove humane community cat programs are effective. Click here to see some examples of the camera tracking pictures.

3. Community surveys

We are undertaking telephone surveys of residents in Ipswich to study attitudes towards pet ownership (desexing, confinement, source of their pets, etc.) and how they’d like stray cats to be managed. We need this data to demonstrate to local governments whether most residents support desexing, rather than culling, to manage stray cats in our cities and towns. 

We are also surveying stray cat carers who enrol their cat in the desexing program to understand the key barriers to desexing, their cat caring behaviours and the kind of bond they have with the cats. After desexing the cats we will survey them again to find out if their cat caring behaviours and bond have changed.

Initial findings from surveys

Some key insights from the survey of cat carers are:

  • – 93% of residents have said it is ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to stop stray kittens being born;
  • – 90% of cat carers say cost is the major reason they have not had their cat desexed;
  • – 90% of cat carers say caring for a cat helps improve their mental health and wellbeing and helps them through tough times
  • – Most cat carers want to do the right thing for the cat and their community;

We anticipate that unowned cat carers will have a closer relationship with their cats and display more behaviours typical of owners, like providing vaccinations and other veterinary treatment, after their cats have been desexed.

Listen to the interim results of the surveys, as presented by Emeritus Professor Jacquie Rand at the 2021 RSPCA Feline Futures conference here 

Do Community Cat Programs benefit the community?

But what about residents – do they benefit?

We expect that all residents will benefit from the Community cat program through reduced problems associated with stray cats such as property soiling, fighting and noise. Our research will seek to confirm this as it will be valuable information when we seek legislative change and broader council support.

We couldn’t do this without our generous donors.

If you would like to support our life-saving work, please donate