Education program will curb cats' toll on native wildlife

New program aims to keep killer cats at home

CATS may be cute, but to native wildlife they can be cruel killers.

Domestic cats are estimated to kill around 67 million native mammals, 83 million native reptiles and 80 million native birds in Australia each year. They are instinctive killers and incredibly efficient predators who hunt even when they are well-fed at home.

A new statewide initiative aims to curb their toll on native wildlife by providing education on the importance of keeping cats contained safely at home. Byron and Kyogle are among ten NSW councils selected to take part in the 'The Keeping Cats Safe at Home' trial, to be rolled out by the RSPCA.

RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said the four-year project was designed to change attitudes and behaviours in the community towards responsible cat ownership.

"We are excited to be working with our council partners and communities closely over the next four years to initiate real change in the way people care for cats as companion animals," Mr Coleman said.

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

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said all pet owners need to be made aware of best practice when it comes to keeping animals and native wildlife safe.

"Local councils have an important part to play in looking after their communities, including creatures big and small, as well as reinforcing responsible pet ownership," Mrs Hancock said.

"This new program will be tailored to each council's needs, so they can customise the best plan to suit their community and protect our precious native wildlife."

The project will engage council representatives, veterinarians, companion animal groups, cat owners, the general community and wildlife groups in each council area.

School curriculum-linked resources will also be developed.

The program is supported by a $2.5 million grant from the Environmental Trust.

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