Feral Cats in the Spotlight

Lane Cove has a vibrant bushland environment with plenty of native species.  We also have a number of feral cats who breed in vacant houses and local halls and clubs (as they are not permanently occupied).

Australia’s Environment Ministers have agreed to request by the NSW Government to establish a working group to examine innovative controls to protect native species from the devastating impacts of feral cats.

Member for Lane Cove, Anthony Roberts, has welcomed the “opportunity for NSW to chair the group which will look at long-term possible control methods.”

“Feral cats are responsible for killing a staggering 1 billion native animals every year across Australia, including 459 million native mammals,” Mr Roberts said.

“NSW is already researching the most up-to-date control methods to hit feral cats head on, including a $30 million partnership with the University of New England to refine existing feral cat control techniques, test new control options and develop integrated strategies.

“This complements similar work being undertaken by other jurisdictions as part of national efforts to control feral cats and protect Australia’s threatened species.”

“Current feral cat controls help, but they aren’t going to solve the problem, so we need to explore new ideas such as synthetic biology and genetic controls,” Mr Roberts said.

“By taking a long-term view, and investing in game changing new technologies, we stand the best chance of getting on top of the feral cat problem across Australia.”

The working group will consider the research already underway by organisations such as CSIRO in relation to genetic control, as well as barriers to development and implementation.

“On ground application of such technologies could be more than twenty years away, but we need to start this work now to try and halt the terrible impact of feral cats on our wildlife,” he said.

“The working group will review potential new strategies and report back to the Meeting of Environment Ministers,” Mr Roberts concluded.

Murdoch University Cat Bib Project

Research is underway at Murdoch University/Sydney University to help our domestic feline friends coexist with native wildlife in the suburbs.

Life with a domestic cat often means waking up to yet another dead bird or entrails in the garden. Hunting is natural cat behavior and most owners feel unable to control it even though they worry about the consequences.

Director of the study Dr Fiona Scarff said they were delighted to be testing a simple solution to a worldwide problem.

“Many Australian households have cats, and these animals are well-loved members of their family,” Dr Scarff said.

It’s no secret that cats prey on birds, lizards and small mammals. These suburban creatures are already under threat from the erosion of their green space.

With this in mind, Dr Scarff of the Veterinary & Life Sciences faculty at Murdoch are testing an effective solution for cat owners and prey alike. It’s called the cat bib and it consists of a soft fabric flap which attaches to the collar.  

Cats wearing the bib are still able to run, jump, climb, groom, feed and snooze as normal. To effectively drive down the capture of urban wildlife, any solution needs to work for free-ranging cats which the bib does. The research team believe that the bib provides a big block of colour that alerts prey animals and physically interferes with the cat’s pounce.

“The bibs have already been shown to be highly effective in reducing bird captures, and also provide a level of protection to other prey animals,” said Dr Scarff.

“We are now testing new bib designs and need the help of pet owners to trial the prototypes.”

The research unit has been involved in studies of cats and their foraging behaviour for over three decades. They have explored topics such as what cats eat, how far they roam and their impact on wildlife.

You can sign up by sending your name, email and suburb (and a phone number if convenient) an email to [email protected]

For more information, visit https://catbibstudy.wixsite.com/research

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