Semi owned cats
The cat overpopulation problem is due to a number of factors, such as supply exceeding demand and the ability of cats to breed extremely quickly. Research has also found that a major contributing factor to this problem is people feeding unowned cats but not taking full ownership or responsibility for them.
A survey by Monash University found that 22% of people said they fed a cat that didn't belong to them. People feed unowned cats because they genuinely care about them, and feel sorry for them. However many people don't realise that they are causing a bigger problem by feeding, but not owning (eg desexing and identifying) these cats.
Feeding unowned cats helps keep them alive and strong enough to reproduce. They keep breeding more and more kittens into a life of disease and neglect. This contributes to the tragic cat overpopulation problem in Australia.
Feeding unowned cats isn't the answer.
If you want to help you must either take ownership of the cat, or call your local council to have the cat taken to the pound or shelter. Please don't feed a bigger problem.
For more information about semi owned cats, including how to take full ownership of a cat you have been feeding, or how to humanely trap cats, visit the "Who's for cats?" website.
Trap Neuter Release (TNR) schemes
TNR schemes involve catching, desexing and returning unowned (wild and uncontrolled) cats to the streets. Some stakeholders argue this is a more effective method of controlling the unowned cat population compared to current control methods that include trapping and the euthanasia of unowned cats in shelters and pounds.
However TNR schemes are illegal in Victoria under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, as releasing an unowned cat back onto the streets is considered to be abandonment. Other issues are failing to register cats with the local council and not complying with requirements to prevent cats causing a nuisance.
A lack of preventative and ongoing veterinary care could also lead to offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
Furthermore, research demonstrates that TNR is not an effective method of cat population control. In 2005, the DPI commissioned the Animal Welfare Science Centre to undertake an extensive literature review of TNR programs worldwide. The review found that while TNR programs may, in some instances, control small cat colonies in defined areas, overall they have proven ineffective in controlling unowned cat populations. This review, along with numerous other research papers, found that TNR programs also lead to a number of other significant animal welfare and cat nuisance problems. For instance, unowned cats released back into the streets continue to suffer poor health and injuries, fight with owned cats, cause nuisance by spraying and yowling, and prey on native wildlife.
Feral cats threaten the survival of over 100 native species in Australia. They have caused the extinction of some ground-dwelling birds and small to medium-sized mammals. They are a major cause of decline for many land-based endangered animals such as the bilby, bandicoot, bettong and numbat. Many native animals are struggling to survive so reducing the number killed by this introduced predator will allow their populations to grow. As such the predation by feral cats is listed as a key threatening process under Australia's national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975, it is an offence for cats to attack wildlife and may be seized or destroyed by authorised officers.