Keeping cats safe

Weddin Shire Council is one of 10 Local Government Areas to be selected to take part in the RSPCA's Keeping Cats Safe at Home initiative.

At the July Weddin Shire Council meeting a motion was moved during Director of Environmental Services Luke Sheehan's report to take part in the program.

"It's being run by the RSPCA, we have been successful in that so as part of that project the RSPCA will run a program tailored to our Shire and that will include a range of different things around keeping cats safe at home and trying to limit their impacts on the environment and wildlife and so forth," Mr Sheehan said.

According to Mr Sheehan the four year long program will tailor the plan be it publicity, contacting cat owners, running desexing days and many other things.

"The final details of that will be worked out in conjunction with the local community and the RSPCA," Mr Sheehan said.

Councillor Phillip Diprose who championed the application said that the initiative has been welcomed by a locals in the community.

"There's four local ladies, that whenever they see me, they talk to me about cats and all those issues about cats in backyards and that sort of stuff," Mr Diprose said.

"The opportunity for this was buried within the Local Government NSW newsletter and the timeline closed within about a week after us seeing it.

"I rang our General Manager to get his support to at least put in a expression of interest. I rang James Maslin the chair of Weddin Landcare, he was also happy to have at least us (Landcare) be involved.

"Council's ranger and Melanie Cooper worked very closely together to get that done. It was done very quickly."

The RSPCA said the project aims to reduce the negative impacts that cats have on wildlife and encourages cat owners to keep their cats safely contained at home.

RSPCA NSW Project Manager Dr Gemma Ma said the mammoth project was designed to change attitudes and behaviours in the community towards responsible cat ownership.

"We are excited to be working closely with our council partners to initiate real change in the way people care for cats as companion animals," Dr Ma said.

"Our job is to help people help animals, and in doing that we can ensure our beloved pets live longer, happier and healthier lives and so too will our unique native birds and wildlife."

According to the RSPCA consultation with stakeholders, including councils, veterinarians, wildlife groups, cat owners and the general community is currently underway.

The community are encouraged to submit their views about cats and how they are managed via a survey at https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=3MR4LAEYPR.

Weddin Shire Council will take part in the RSPCA's Keeping Cats Safe at Home project. Photo: Rebecca Hewson

Weddin Shire Council will take part in the RSPCA's Keeping Cats Safe at Home project. Photo: Rebecca Hewson

"Your answers will help us keep cats and wildlife safe," Dr Ma said.

The $2.5 million grant was announced by NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean, as part of the NSW Environmental Trust's Major Projects Prospectus.

"The program will help protect our unique wildlife, with domestic cats estimated to kill around 53 million reptiles and 61 million birds in Australia each year," Mr Kean said.

"While many cat owners are already incredibly responsible, others appear unaware of best-practice when it comes to keeping wildlife safe.

"This vital program will help us all protect our unique wildlife, especially in areas such as bushland habitats on suburban fringes."

The participating councils include:

  • Blue Mountains City Council,
  • Byron Shire Council,
  • Campbelltown City Council,
  • City of Parramatta Council,
  • Hornsby Shire Council,
  • Northern Beaches Council,
  • Shoalhaven City Council,
  • Tweed Shire and Kyogle Councils,
  • Walgett Shire Council and
  • Weddin Shire Council.