Throughout the world the extent to which species of wild cat are at risk varies considerably. In Australia, where neither wild cats nor companion animal cats are indigenous, the focus of cat protection is on the latter group of urban owned and unowned cats. WLPA deals only with Australian urban cat welfare under their Feline Protection Program, leaving aside for now, the important question of domestic cat management and population control in rural and remote Australia where cats may impact more on native animal welfare.
Current estimates are that there may be more unowned than owned cats in some Australian capital cities. These two populations, owned vs unowned domestic cats overlap: owned cats frequently become abandoned and they may migrate to colonies of free-roaming, unowned cats. Most free-roaming unowned cats can become domesticated and homed and when rescued early, their kittens most often become loving pets like any other kitten. Interventions for each group also overlap. Individuals from both groups are given equal consideration as to their welfare, their rights to life and a home and to protection by WLPA.
That there are so many unowned and undesexed urban cats, whose origins stem from abandoned pets, presents a confronting welfare problem. Societal mismanagement of cats results in as many as 55,000 surplus kittens being born each year in Sydney alone for whom homes must be found. Thousands die prior to rescue and each year up to 80,000 healthy cats and kittens are euthanized by vets or by Council-funded pounds and shelters. This is because resources are not allocated to rehoming and a judgment is made that homes will not be found for all of them.
The no-kill stance of WLPA
Cat overpopulation is the single greatest feasibility threat to resourcing and sustaining feline protection programs. A no-kill stance has both potential and limitations at this time.
- Its potential is that ongoing campaigning can potentially change cat abandonment rates and improve desexing rates.
- Its limitation is that WLPA as a no-shelter, foster-carer-based service, can only take in and rehome low numbers of cats and kittens.
Urban cat protection then is too big a job for any single animal charity and WLPA can only contribute to this larger effort. The work is costly, labour-intensive and involves multiple simultaneous approaches.
WLPA’s Feline Protection Program is organised under the following activities:
- ‘Step up for cats’ media and social media campaign
- Cat Community Compassion Circles
- Trapping neuter rehoming or release (TNRR)
- Foster caring
- Assertive rehoming
- Assistance to disadvantaged cat rescue volunteers
Making a local hands-on contribution
The WLPA provides a low-intake, no-shelter, foster carer and on-line rehoming-based program in Sydney and surrounds. This work is donation, volunteer and vet-partner supported. Activities include nutrition for unowned cats, population control of designated colonies of unowned cats (‘community cats’); helping local neighborhoods to manage lost, abandoned and unowned cats to prevent colonies emerging (‘Cat Community Compassion Circles’); kitten rescue and assertive rehoming; and assistance to disadvantaged cat rescuers. WLPA hosts an appointment-based adoptions centre 7 days a week. From December to June each year, kittens are the focus of rehoming effort, while for the remainder of the year, juvenile and adult cats are homed.
Campaign: ‘step up for cats’
The slogan, ‘step up for cats’ addresses the behaviours and contexts of cat mismanagement in Australian society. This is the other major approach and is outlined in detail in the next few pages. Find out more.
To read the full WLPA Feline Protection Program document, see here.