a delightful free booklet from the Dog & Cat Management Board.
Click the link, or phone (08) 8124 4962 for your copy.

Responsible Cat Ownership

What is responsible cat ownership?

Repsonsible cat owners:

  • Care for their pet & keep it healthy.
  • They prevent it from taking wildlife & breeding freely.
  • They don't let their cat disrupt their neighbours lives.
  • They don't feed or encourage strays, but ask neighbours if they own the cat. If not, they catch it & take it to the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League, or ask them for advice on catching cats.

    What are the benefits of responsible cat ownership?

    Cats are docile intelligent & clean companion animals.

  • They help teach children about responsibility & relationships.
  • They give affection comfort & companionship to their owners.
  • The lonely & elderly keep alert & active by physical contact with cats.

    In a book for Anchoresses, written in the time of Dame Julian of Norwich, these holy women were advised:
    'My dear sisters, you should keep no beast except a cat'
    But it needs to be remembered that this was written in Europe, where the cat is indigenous

    What does responsible cat ownership cost?

    This will vary from place to place, but you should consider the following before becoming a cat owner:

  • Desexing - this is less expensive for males than for females.
  • Vaccinations - at least 2 are required in the first year, then annual booster shots.
  • An enclosed outdoor area
  • cattery fees for when you are away.
  • Food.
  • Vets expenses if your cat becomes sick or is injured.

    Responsible cat owners have fewer visits to the vet, & fewer bills.
    (Studies show that desexed confined cats have a much higher chance of surviving the first 2 years than fertile free-ranging cats. They have fewer injuries from road accidents & from fights with other animals.)

    Why confine my cat?

    Even well-fed cats may hunt by instinct. They hunt, often at night, & often over wide areas & long distances. This is when & why they can get run over. If your cat is confined at night, you can be confident that your cat is safer & so is the wildlife.
    The heartbreaking results of letting your cat wander: Pillaged Nest

    How can I confine my cat?

    You don't have to confine your cat indoors & make your nights a misery. Any enclosed space, a shed or an old aviary can be made comfortable for your cat. You can connect an enclosed outside area to the house quite easily & cheaply with a cat-flap. Outdoor cat runs can be home-made or purchased - take a look at CATNIP's modular Cat Parks. These are RSPCA approved, and can be mailed anywhere in Australia. They also have installers in most Capital Cities.
    Kittens can easily be trained to sleep in the laundry.
    Confinement is not cruel as long as you provide food, water, shelter, a litter tray, a warm place to sleep, exercise & sunbathing areas, & scatching & climbing places.
    You wouldn't let your children roam the streets. Why let your cat be run over, run away, or be stolen?

    A recent RSPCA programme on local TV highlighted the case of a cat which had been badly burned, presumably by being dowsed with petrol & set alight. It was horrifying to see the results, & to follow the creature's slow, painful, & very expensive road to partial recovery.
    Burned CatThe owners were a migrant family, who loved their pet. But had they had the male animal desexed, & not allowed it to roam - the attack occured during the night - it would not have happened. If the many compassionate folk who donated money to help pay for the animal's treatment were also to petition local authorities, or better still, State Parliaments, to require compulsory registration, de-sexing, and microchipping of cats, far fewer cats would be ill-treated or neglected, & this would eventually impact to some extent on feral populations.
    As for cat owners - if they truly loved their animals they would do this as a matter of course. They would also have their cats immunised against cat flu & feline AIDS.
    If you can't afford to keep an animal, why not become a volunteer with one of the many fine organisations who work for the welfare of animals.

    More hints for a happily confined cat or cats.

    Provide lots of toys - balls, scrunched paper, toy rats and mice, soft toys, etc. Cats particularly like to play with toys attached to elastic and suspended above them. Of course, people are the best toys!

    Provide plenty of places to hide and play in - cardboard boxes, paper bags, cubby holes and also places to sleep.

    Provide plenty of high surfaces, preferably in the sun, for cats to jump on and climb. "Climbing posts" can be placed to give access to a high ledge.

    Provide a scratching post for "sharpening" claws - cats can be attracted to the post by catnip.

    Cats love to lie in the sun and sleep or watch the world go by. Provide an outside area for sunbaking if possible. Window ledges and bay windows, or even a chair next to a high window, are excellent vantage points.

    Cats sometimes chew grass, so if a cat is inside all the time it needs a plant pot.

    Provide plenty of owner contact or another cat for companionship. If the owner leads a busy life, it is a good idea to purchase a pair of kittens so they are company for each other while you are away.

    Training kittens to stay inside

    Kittens are easy to train to stay inside because they don't know anything else. Kittens can also be trained to walk on a harness with a lead by using food as a reward.

    Training adults

    It can be more difficult to train an adult cat to stay inside if it is used to roaming free. However with patience and understanding, it can usually be achieved over several weeks.

    The first step is to keep your cat inside at night. Food, warmth and comfort are major driving forces in a cat's life. Don't feed your cat until you are ready to bring it inside. Cats learn quickly that they don't get fed unless they are home by dusk. Once inside with food and other essential needs met, don't let your cat out until morning.

    During the adjustment period, owner contact and interaction is extremely important, and it may be necessary to gradually lengthen the time spent inside. Some owners may even wish to train their cats to stay inside all the time, in which case the time spent indoors should be gradually increased, and the provision of an enriched environment is even more important.

    In very difficult cases, it is possible to use tranquillisers for a short period to help the adjustment. Consult your veterinarian.

    Why desex my cat?

    A desexed cat lives longer, suffers less from wanderlust, is easier to own & care for & makes a better pet.
    It is less likely to have the nasty habits of fertile animals:

  • fighting
  • spraymarking territories
  • urinating on the carpet.
    Cats are prolific breeders, requiring fewer than 2.5% of fertile animals for an entire population to be perpetuated.
    More sterile animals means ferwer unwanted & abandoned kittens.
    Fewer strays means humans, other companion animals & wildlife are better protected.

    What if I am an irresponsible cat owners?

  • Your cat may breed prolifically, adding to the already large population of strays.
    If you dump the kittens they will become feral, or die a slow painful death - what's out of sight is still your responsibility.
    If you decide that the kittens must die, take them to an organisation who will kill them humanely. (This may involve a fee or donation).
    Horrible isn't it? - much easier to have the cat desexed.
  • Neighbourly relations often break down over the damage & roaming cat does - defecating, spraying, cat-fighting.
    Controllling your cat will help you stay friends with your neighbours.
  • An Australia wide survey showed that an average domestic cat (including city cats) brings home 16 mammals, 8 birds, & 8 reptiles every year. Most cats don't bring everything home!
    Figures in other countries could be similar.
    There are about 200,00 domestic cats in Adelaide. That means millions of animals, birds & reptiles being killed every year in Adelaide alone, by domestic pets. And at least half these victims are native species.

    Stop Abuse!  Don't Litter - Spay & neuter

    For the full text, & more information, as well as some simply lovely cat photos, click on this Cat & Dog Management Logo. Dog and Cat Management
    Don't forget to check your local council or shire regulations - more and more local authorities are instituing regulations to control cats as well as dogs and other animals.

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