Community Cat Program News
Latest Community Cat Program Update
In the past month, we have:
- – finished our ‘before desexing’ stray cat count in three Ipswich suburbs, with over 200 free-roaming cats identified;
- – finalised plans for, and are about to start, surveying residents in those three suburbs about pet ownership and preferred ways of managing stray cats. We’ll survey 250 people in the next two months;
- – applied for a federal government grant to fund six research staff. We’ll hear the outcome in mid 2020. Fingers crossed.
1. Stray cat numbers estimated
From walking a large number of kilometres over 50 hours, our volunteer cat counting teams have counted 203 free-roaming cats in three Ipswich suburbs. We’ll combine this data with data of cats filmed using wildlife cameras at tracking stations. Together with volunteers, we placed the cameras out on the weekend before Christmas along the routes we walked counting cats, to enable us to measure the density of free-roaming cats. These ‘before’ numbers will help determine if there are fewer stray cats after desexing – an important factor in getting legislative change to allow desexing of stray cats.
2. Community surveys underway
Two enthusiastic UQ vet tech graduates will soon start doorknocking and surveying 250 residents in those three Ipswich suburbs on their attitudes towards pet ownership (desexing, confinement, source of their pets etc.) and how they’d like stray cats to be managed. After desexing, we’ll determine if attitudes have changed. We need this data to demonstrate to local governments that most residents support desexing, rather than culling, to manage stray cats in our cities and towns.
3. Federal government grant application submitted
We’ve applied for an Australian Research Council Linkage grant, which will fund a number of research staff for the project. These researchers will investigate whether a Community Cat Program:
- – reduces euthanasia in shelters and pounds
- – reduces numbers of free-roaming cats
- – reduces wildlife predation
- – increases responsible cat-caring behaviours
- – is cost-effective for councils and shelters
- – is supported by the community.
If the answer is yes, we are well placed to seek legislative changes. Our donors will have enabled Australia to consign the traumatic days of vets and shelter workers being expected to constantly kill healthy stray cats and kittens, year in and year out, to the dark days of history. Our 23 industry partners will also be contributing more than $1.7 million of in-kind support to help with desexing and health care for the cats, and supervision of the student researchers.
Do Community Cat Programs change peoples’ attitudes and behaviours?
The benefits to animals have been clearly demonstrated overseas, with drastically reduced shelter intake and euthanasia following targeted desexing programs.
But what about people – do they benefit? And what are their thoughts about desexing programs vs ‘trap and kill’? To find out, we are surveying residents to determine any changes in:
- – the human-animal bond, and behaviours, of stray cat carers
- – community preferences for how stray cats are managed
One of our industry partners, Victoria’s Banyule City Council, is now surveying stray cat carers who enrol their cat in the desexing program. At our Queensland site, we’ll soon start surveying people’s preferences for cat management.
What do we hope to find?
We anticipate that carers will have a closer relationship – and display more behaviours typical of owners, like providing vaccinations and other veterinary treatment – after their cats have been desexed.
We also hope that residents who aren’t carers will be delighted that there is no longer a ‘stray cat problem’. This will be valuable for when we seek legislative change.
We couldn’t do this without our generous donors.
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