Research has shown that 40% of cat owners are secretly feeding a cat they don't own.* Compassionate cat-lovers across the country are giving outdoor kitties extra help. Wild, stray or homeless; whatever you call them, they're Community Cats.
Unfortunately, despite their huge numbers, resources for 'secret cat feeders' have been limited. Often the only advice anyone is given is to 'call the council'. However, shelters around Australia are not coping with the amount of cats arriving on their doorstep every day. In fact at many shelters cats have an 80% chance of being euthanased, so if your Community Cat is happy and healthy a shelter may not be the best option.
The message that desexing is the responsible option for cat owners has got through to the Australian public, with 95% of owned cats being desexed, and now we need to begin caring for Community Cats so they, and their offspring, don't become another statistic.
By following these simple steps, cat carers can ensure they're doing the right thing by their Community Cats.
- If she loves a pat and isn't shy, ask around the neighbourhood. She may just be dining-out at your place!
- Take her to your vet to be scanned for a microchip. Your friendly cat may be someone's missing family member.
- Having a Community Cat can be a joy, but when she arrives with kittens in tow, you'll have a problem. Take the plunge and have her desexed; consider it a donation to cat welfare! (The boys also need 'the snip' as this cuts down on macho behaviours that drive neighbours batty).
- Put a note in your diary for an annual vaccination and health check up. Give her somewhere warm to sleep in the winter and make sure she has plenty of water in the summer. Your Community Cat needs your help to stay happy and healthy.
Every council, state and territory has different requirements relating to companion animals. In Victoria, you may need to take ownership of your Community Cat if you are her carer, and we encourage you do to so. Be sure to check you're working within the laws in your area.
If your Community Cat is shy around humans, you may need a cat trap to get her to the vet. Cat traps can be hired from most councils, some branches of the RSPCA and from some vets.
The Secret Cat Society
Do you have a secret cat? Join the Secret Cat Society and help build a community of cat lovers, to share tips, information and ideas on caring for Community Cats. You can also download the Secret Cat poster to display in your workplace, to help spread the word about the community!
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* From ‘Characteristics of Pets Visiting Vets’
Dr Linda Marston and Dr Pauleen Bennett, report to the Animal Welfare Science Centre, 2009