Australia currently faces a cat overpopulation crisis with millions of unowned stray or feral cats living throughout the country.
To tackle cat overpopulation, the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) has joined forces with a number of animal welfare and industry organizations, to educate people on ways to control this problem. The campaign targets those feeding but not taking full responsibility of an unowned cat.
The initiative asks people feeding an unowned cat to act humanely by contacting their local council to seek advice on either taking ownership of the cat (registering and desexing it etc), or bringing the cat into a shelter.
About cat overpopulation in Australia
A study by Monash University has cited a major contributing factor to cat overpopulation is people feeding unowned cats but not taking full responsibility or ownership for them.
The same study found that 22% of people fed a cat that didn’t belong to them. People feed cats out of genuine care for the animal without realising their actions actually contributed to the growth of the feral and stray cat population.
Other causes of cat overpopulation include supply exceeding demand, the ability of cats to breed rapidly, and general attitudes towards the species, which manifest in irresponsible cat ownership (for instance, the belief that cats can cope with being left to fend for themselves).
Feeding an unowned cat enables it to grow strong enough to reproduce which, in turn, results in more kittens being born into a life of neglect.
Unowned cats often live in a state of poor health and disease. The average life expectancy of an unowned cat is three years, compared to 12 - 15 years for an owned, de-sexed cat.
Unowned cats also cause nuisance as they fight with other cats spreading diseases, prey on wildlife, spray strong smelling urine on houses and cars to mark their territory, yowl at night and defecate in gardens and sandpits.
Each year tens of thousands of cats are impounded and of these, most are euthanased. Tragically, many healthy cats and kittens are euthanased because homes cannot be found for them. This costs the community millions of dollars per year.
About ‘Who’s for Cats?’
“Who’s for cats?” initially began as a Victorian campaign, and has more recently been adapted to make it suitable for a National audience (with funding received from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, through the AAWS).
The Victorian organisations that have come together to implement this campaign are: the Animal Welfare Science Centre, Australian Veterinary Association, Cat Protection Society, Department of Primary Industries, Lort Smith Animal Hospital, Lost Dogs’ Home, Monash University, Municipal Association of Victoria, RSPCA and Victorian Animal Aid.
Additional organisations across Australia are expected to participate in implementation of the campaign in future.
The campaign involves TV, radio and print advertisements, a dedicated website (www.whosforcats.com.au), posters, flyers, billboard advertising, promotion at events, information in the various magazines and newsletters produced by participating groups, education activities in primary schools etc. New ideas for promoting campaign messages will continue to be developed over time. Activities are also being expanded from Victoria, to other Australian States / Territories.
- For more information, or if you can help to promote the campaign, visit www.whosforcats.com.au or call 136 186.