For the first time, South Australia’s two leading animal welfare organisations have combined forces to address major concerns about the overpopulation and welfare of cats.
RSPCA South Australia and the Animal Welfare League of South Australia (AWL) today launched a state-wide cat management plan. RSPCA South Australia CEO Paul Stevenson and AWL CEO Richard Mussell identified prevention of uncontrolled cat breeding as a key priority for the new plan, saying the current situation was unsustainable.
“With more than 10,000 cats and kittens coming into AWL and RSPCA last financial year, our community cannot continue to ignore this major animal welfare issue, and charity organisations can no longer be the sole solution,” Mr Mussell said.
“All cats and kittens that are healthy and behaviourally suitable for rehoming are adopted at a combined cost to our organisations of more than $6 million a year – a figure that is growing annually and simply not sustainable for charities.
“Numerous studies and community consultation exercises have been undertaken in recent years to identify solutions to reduce cat overpopulation in South Australia, and yet we were still without a comprehensive action plan.”
The jointly developed plan addresses recommendations contained within the RSPCA’s national report – “Identifying Best Practise Domestic Cat Management in Australia” – which draws on input from local councils, state government and community groups in South Australia.
“Councils are clearly looking for a new approach to cat management, with some recently introducing by-laws relating to cat registration, curfews and containment,” Mr Stevenson said.
“To date, the approach has been somewhat piecemeal, disjointed and largely ineffective; a consistent and comprehensive approach across the State is the only effective way to curb cat overpopulation, and with the Dog and Cat Management Act due for review in 2020, now is the right time to be legislating for best practise cat management by councils.
“The Cat Management Plan for South Australia takes a long-term view aimed at a sustainable reduction in cat overpopulation, incorporating a pragmatic and comprehensive set of actions for government, councils, owners and animal welfare organisations.
“Successful interstate initiatives have seen the adoption of a state-wide approach, with local councils taking increased responsibility for cat management.”
The plan calls for a raft of changes including the standardisation of mandatory holding periods, rules regarding cat containment and curfews, and low-cost desexing programs across all councils.
Both RSPCA South Australia and AWL agree councils are the best-placed authority to take the lead on cat management in SA.
“We also agree collaboration is key to this complex issue, and we are ready to assist councils in developing their cat management plans,” Mr Mussell said.
“The actions included in the plan will address not only concerns about cat welfare but also issues arising from uncontrolled cat habitation in urban environments, particularly with semi-owned and unowned domestic cats.
“When fully implemented, the positive outcomes for cats, wildlife and our community will be enormous.”