The problem with cats

Feral and domestic cats are responsible for the decline of many of our native bird, mammal and reptile  species in Australia.  Irresponsible cat owners who let their animals roam freely are to blame. You can’t blame the cats; they are natural hunters and will seek any source of food.

Local council restricts cat numbers

In the light of my first paragraph it is then pleasing to hear that Mitcham Council in suburban Adelaide last night passed a bylaw restricting the numbers of cats in its area.

In addition to the two-cat restriction, Mitcham cat owners will be required to register and microchip the animals. Cat owners are permitted to own more than two cats if they can convince the council they are not impacting negatively on the community and they are properly cared for.

You can read the whole article here: Adelaide Advertiser.

They didn’t go far enough in my opinion. They should have also provided for compulsory desexing of all cats registered.

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7 Responses to “The problem with cats”

  1. Brenton H says:

    Hi Trevor,
    Thanks for this blog today. I live in the Mitcham council area and I am so pleased with the cat bylaw. I am checking if my councillors voted for this new bylaw because I will support them at the November postal elections if they did. I agree with you about compulsory desexing of cats. I hope, as the new century evolves that Australians begin to appreciate our wildlife before it has all disappeared! I am a bit ‘radical’ because I never use the term ‘native’ for birds, plants or indeed anything. Such a term reeks of colonialism and that Australian plants, birds and animals are second rate.
    I hope that domestic animal use decreases and that more people put resources into saving and promoting ‘Australian’ wildlife and plants.

  2. Trevor says:

    Thanks for you comments Brenton – spot on as usual. And may you see further developments re cats in your area.

    As for my use of the word ‘native’ I’d like to make more comments. Word usage is problematic. While I agree with you in principle – and for the reasons you state – I have several problems with not using the word ‘native’ at all:

    1. The word ‘native’ is in general usage in the broader community and is generally understood by those with little academic training (or don’t care). I sometimes use the more technical word ‘endemic’ and I could also use ‘indigenous’ though that is usually and generally (and wrongly) only used in reference to humans.

    2. This blog is aimed at the general population and so I try to keep it as non-technical and easy to read as possible, and at a level for the many children who read it.

    3. I use the simple term ‘native’ to distinguish it from ‘introduced’ and ‘feral’ – even these terms are problematic as I found out from one reader from France recently where the terms can mean something entirely different.

    4. The term ‘native’ is used widely in scientific papers to mean the species (bird, animal, plant etc) occurring naturally in a defined region. To define a bird etc as ‘Australian’ is too narrow for most purposes so using the extra word ‘native’ further defines what is meant.

    5. My use is consistent with the Macquarie Dictionary definitions.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not having a go at you. Full points to you for taking a stand and sticking to it.

    I’m just trying to explain why I use a particular term.

  3. Snail says:

    Good on Mitcham Council. I hope they’re not like the Tablelands Regional Council who announced that they can’t (translation: won’t) actually do anything to enfore animal control bylaws.

  4. Ken Rolph says:

    I’ve run into people who think ‘endemic’ means that something is widespread and abundant. I think they confuse it with epidemic.

    The tricky question is how long does something have to be around before it becomes native. And what if they move within Australia. I like watching crested pigeons, but they are not native to the Sydney area. They come from the western plains. They are sort of self-introduced to Sydney.

  5. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your comments on this issue, Snail. Let’s hope that, in time, your council will have a change of mind.

  6. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your comments in this issue Ken. Knowing that you are an avid wordsmith I am not surprised by your conclusion that people often confuse the meanings of some words.

    Your latter comments raise some interesting issues too. I’ll use your example of the Crested Pigeon. They are not native/endemic in the Sydney region and theoretically never will be if we use the words in their strictest sense. Historically they have never existed here until recent times and so are not endemic to the region.

    An introduced species like the Blackbird is easy to name as such because humans brought it here and released it. By way of contrast, a species that “self-introduces” into an area usually means that it is expanding or changing its normal range because of changes environmental conditions.

    It has also happened with some other species too. The most profound example has been the Cattle Egret which is not endemic to Australia at all but came to northern Australia from Asia many decades ago and continues to spread its range without human influence.

  7. […] special occasions I do make some controversial statements, like when I speak out about the damage domestic cats do to the Australian wildlife, including birds, mammals and […]

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