General

  • 3-5% of Australia’s urban stray cats are killed at pounds and shelters each year
  • An average of 56% of all cats entering pounds and shelters are killed (including friendly ones)
  • NSW data suggests that the current low level killing isn’t effective – there has been a steady increase, not decrease, in the number of cats and kittens killed
  • Removal of kittens and friendly adults for adoption is important in achieving early reductions in colony size
  • It would be wise for welfare agencies and councils to support community groups in desexing, to reduce stray cat numbers and shelter intake

Colony size

  • The median reduction in stray cat numbers was 31% over 2.2 years
  • If 51% to 94% of all cats are desexed, colonies don’t increase
  • If 75% to 80% of all cats are desexed, colonies decline or cease to exist
  • At a UNSW site, there was a 71% reduction over eight years (from 77 to 22 cats)

Use of CCP overseas

  • CCP is used in a number of countries including America, Canada, Singapore and Italy
  • In North America, CCP leads to a marked drop in stray cat numbers entering pounds and shelters and being killed
  • In a Florida study, shelter intake decreased by 66% where a CCP program was being used, compared to a 12% decrease in the control area. The cat intake was 3.5 times higher, and the number killed was 17.5 times higher in the control area than where CCP was being used
  • Dog intake where CCP was being used also decreased (36% decrease compared to 9%)
  • The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends not doing FIV tests for cats in CCP and using the funds for higher priorities, like desexing

Use of CCP in Australia

  • CCP locations CCP is occurring in all mainland Australian cities. It is mainly being used in residential areas (26%), industrial areas or factory complexes (20%) and streets and lanes (13%)
  • Colony size Median initial size was 11.5 cats
  • Effectiveness The effectiveness of  CCP appears to increase over time – where CCP had been used for more than two years, the median percent reduction was 49% instead of 33%
  • Identification 44% of respondents microchip, 33% of respondents ear-tip
  • Rehoming 92% of respondents rehome kittens up to 12 weeks; 79% rehome kittens over 12 weeks; 83% rehome friendly adults
  • Feeding Most respondents feed once or twice a day

The argument against CCP being ‘abandonment’

  • The care provided to cats in this study is not consistent with abandonment
  • Most cats are fed once or twice a day
  • Many caregivers give parasite treatment; most kittens are given the F3 vaccination
  • (separate study) The body condition of CCP’d cats in managed colonies is comparable to that of owned cats
  • (separate study) 83% of CCP’d cats are still alive after six years; just 42% of pet cats are still in their home after five years
  • CCP is a useful method of non-lethal control of urban stray cat populations. It generally leads to reduced stray cat numbers,  improved health care and markedly reduced cat related complaints

Will people stop feeding stray cats?

  • Probably not
  • A separate study indicated that 87% of people feel good about feeding a stray cat and 58% feel it’s the right thing to do
  • 9% of Australians feed a cat daily who they don’t consider to be theirs
  • 22% of Victorian households provide some care to a cat who they don’t consider to be theirs
  • Most are not desexed
  • These ‘semi-owned’ cats contribute to the  80-90% of stray cats entering pounds and shelters  that are socialised to people

Impact of killing on people

  • 50% of people involved with killing animals at pounds and shelters develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • The current method of capturing and killing stray cats therefore has a very significant human cost [it would be interesting to quantify the costs to insurance companies and taxpayers]

Funding

  • CCP is largely self-funded and by other private funding sources
  • People may be self-funding CCP because the RSPCA and Australian Veterinary Association currently have policies against it
  • In contrast, in America, most CCP is funded by philanthropic organizations, animal welfare organisations and councils
  • Legalizing high quality CCP would facilitate funding and in-kind support

Recommendations

  • legislative change is essential to reduce:
  • urban stray cat numbers
  • cat-related complaints
  • wildlife predation
  • cat intake and killing in pounds and shelters
  • the toll that killing takes on staff
  • change legislation to define feral cats as those with no reliance on humans for food or shelter, and to specifically exclude urban strays
  • legalise and encourage CCP for urban stray cats
  • develop best practice guidelines, including desexing as close to 100% of the colony as possible, and adopting kittens and friendly adults, where foster and adoption resources allow it
  • aim to desex all cats in the in each colony as quickly as possible, with a goal of desexing all cats within six months
  • remove uneaten food after 30-60 minutes, to reduce mice and rat problems
  • target CCP, and prioritise funding, to areas that are over-represented by cat intake into shelters and pounds, and by cat-related complaints
  • RSPCA to develop a register of CCP colonies and provide low-cost desexing, microchipping, cat traps, food and funding. Include an annual census of cats in the colony, so that CCP’s effectiveness can be measured
  • implement dispute resolution and lend deterrent equipment if there are people concerned about the cats