Many states in Australia will soon ask cat owners to keep them locked inside their homes, or at least within the premises. The reason? These feline hunters have been hunting hundreds of native animals.
According to ABC News, one cat is responsible for more than 180 native animal attacks. It further reported that around 450 native animals, most of them small birds and quendas (a type of bandicoot), are brought the WA Wildlife hospital near Perth each year after an encounter with a cat.
The report also mentioned about a boobook owl, who had to be euthanised due to a chip fracture to its elbow joint after a cat encounter. The owl was brought to the hospital by the owner of the cat, who found the injured bird in the pet’s mouth.
The doctors said that severity of the injury affected the owl’s ability to fly.
The hospital’s operations director Dean Huxley told ABC News that more than 5,000 animals are admitted to the facility each year suffering from injuries consistent with a cat attack.
One of the reasons, he said, is he clearing of habitat which leads these animals to areas dominated by cats, thereby resulting in such calamities.
So, in order to save endemic wildlife from extinction, the authorities in Australia are implementing “cat curfews”.
In Adelaide Hills in South Australia, cats a banned from 8pm to 7am. In other parts of the country, like the city of Greater Bendigo in Victoria, owners have been asked to keep the cats on their properties or face fines.
Australia’s capital Canberra plans to place all the cats under lockdown from mid-2022. In Western Australia, Fremantle is leading the push for cat containment, with a proposal to ban cats from all public areas.
Cat breeders like Pamela Lanigan agree with government’s move to ban cats in public places. But she points out that much of the harm to wildlife hadn’t been done by pet cats but those which are stray or “loosely owned” by several households.