Letters 25.2.23

I tawt I taw a puddy tat… 

ON the morning of November 10, 2022 I was walking in Kings Park with my family.

On the “Boomerang” pathway in the north-west corner adjacent to Thomas Street, I observed a domestic black cat moving freely around in the park.

I followed the cat off the path and saw that its owner lived on Rosalie Street, Shenton Park.

The cat had no bell to warn native animals of its approach. 

However it did have its name, owner details, a GPS tracker and two bizarre tags stating “Mum’s tracking me, if no tracker please call my mum, thanku!!” and 

“Not lost just an adventurer”. 

I called BGPA – Kings Park and was politely told if I’m concerned I should call the City of Subiaco. 

I called the City of Subiaco and discussed it with a ranger who informed me that although he agreed this was irresponsible of the owner, it was not violating the Cat Act and there was no further action to be taken.

Kingsley Rudeforth
West Perth

Show some leadership

I WAS shocked to read the Letter to the Editor “Not many roaming cats in Kings Park” in the Voice (February 18, 2023). 

The letter dismisses the impact cats are having on urban wildlife, human health, and the need for responsible pet ownership. 

Suburban environments, including our remnant bushland, parks and native verges, are important areas for biodiversity, supporting large numbers of threatened species. Yet pet cats are ubiquitously distributed in these environments. 

A review by leading Australian scientists has estimated that, on average, pet cats kill up to 50 times more animals per square kilometre compared to feral cats living free in the landscape, with each free-roaming pet cat estimated to kill between 110 – 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year. 

With around 3.5 million free-roaming pet cats in Australia, the cumulative predator-induced effects on wildlife are alarming! 

I saw, first hand, the devastating impact a single, free-roaming cat can impose on seabirds. In 2018, incursions by a pre-owned cat over several nights led to the death of six adult Fairy Terns, at least 40 chicks, and ultimately, the abandonment of 111 nests (“New laws to stop domestic cats roaming could save fairy tern population,” ABC news, December 15, 2019). 

Another study from a suburban Perth property provides evidence of the extermination of an entire population (40-50 individuals) of skinks by a single pet cat within two years of the animal moving into the neighbourhood. 

The estimated annual cost of treating two cat-dependent diseases (toxoplasmosis and cat-scratch disease) in Australia is $6.1 billion! 

If keeping cats indoors to enhance wildlife conservation isn’t enough of a motivator, perhaps human health is.

The evidence is unequivocal and policy makers have an obligation to ensure the protection of our native species and to help reduce the spread of disease. I call on local government minister John Carey to show strong leadership on the issue of free-roaming cats and urgently enable the enforcement of permanent containment for pet cats (much like the rest of Australia does). 

Dr Claire Greenwell
Editor’s note: Dr Greenwell is convenor of the 500-member WA Fairy Tern Network.

WA caught catnapping

Recently there has various publications (including “Kings Park push for cat laws”, Voice, January 28, 2023) and discussion regarding the damage that pet (and stray) cats inflict on the wildlife in the Perth metropolitan area, which I am sure can be expanded to other populated areas.

It is frustrating that cat owners have so little regard for the environment that they allow their “pets” to roam free at night, killing countless native animals and breeding with stray cats, increasing the problem.

What I find equally frustrating is that WA councils who see the absolute need to manage cats can’t enact cat containment bylaws (like in other states) because the state government and responsible ministers refuse to act. 

Brisbane city council have been proactive for over a decade and there are many other councils in SA, Vic and QLD that have had cat containment bylaws for well over a decade.

The lack of containment laws are also increasing the number of stray cats and feral cats through their offspring.

The amount of cats that I see roaming at night and early morning in our suburb, particularly in Piney Lakes Reserve alone is amazing, and I am sure if there were similar number of dogs there would be an outcry. 

However, why is it OK for cats to be allowed too roam, given the significant damage they do to the local fauna populations?

When is enough enough? 

When will the government ministers stop playing politics, passing the buck or blaming someone else? 

When will the state government review and update the current laws? 

When will councils be permitted to enact cat containment bylaws?

Greg Stagbouer


I WAS dismayed and incredibly disappointed to read the letter to the editor “Not many cats roaming Kings Park” in the Perth Voice (February 18, 2023).

Minister Carey completely ignores the bigger picture and fails to realise the unique opportunity he has to leave a significant legacy for Perth communities. 

The recent UN Biodiversity Conference calls for global action to halt biodiversity loss, and global action requires local effort. 

An easy win to do our part in the fight for survival of our native species, is a local government cat containment law.

The scientific and social evidence is clear – there are no downsides to permanent pet cat containment. 

Pet cats themselves also lead much longer lives, free from the threat of car strike, snake bite and diseases. 

And, as Minister Carey should know, the terrible impact from cats hunting our threatened urban wildlife will end.

Minister Carey completely disregards the urgency of the situation, claiming that a review of the legislation in 2024 (with no meaningful change until 2030) is sufficient. 

Meanwhile local councils are desperate for change, not wanting to be left behind on this issue by more progressive eastern states. 

Even his constituents want change – the last Cat Act review showed 73 per cent of people want permanent cat containment!

Solutions to permanent cat containment exist already.

Policy solutions that could simply be copied are widely implemented in cost-neutral ways across many eastern states councils.

The RSPCA has helpful guidelines to transition roaming pet cats to being comfortable and entertained inside or in a catio. 

The centralised registration system that Mr Carey mentioned would be an opportunity to improve the efficiency of implementation.

Yet even more motivating than the widespread wins for all involved is the counter factual. For every year the minister delays effective cat containment laws in Western Australia, 

224 million birds, reptiles and mammals will die and countless well-loved pet cats could be maimed or horribly killed on our roads.

It is time for the City of Perth to catch up to the action already being undertaken by other local governments to control domestic cats and to do its part to help Australia shake off our appalling title of the country that has lost more mammal species to extinction than any other continent in the world. 

The time for permanent cat containment is now, before we have nothing left to protect.

Kaylee Prince

An open invitation

OUR precious native wildlife are under constant pressure from multiple threats, especially in our urban environment. 

The statistics on predation of native fauna by domestic cats is irrefutable and the numbers are truly staggering!

Minister Carey, I respectfully offer you an open invitation to visit Lake Claremont, a conservation category wetland.

I would welcome the opportunity to show you the amazing work that the Town of Claremont and the community have done to restore this highly degraded wetland. 

The revegetation project at Lake Claremont has been a great success story, so much so that last year we were able to initiate a quenda relocation project. 

The quenda is a priority 4 threatened species. As a part of this project the Friends of Lake Claremont (FOLC) committed to a monitoring program.

FOLC won a grant to purchase 11 cameras for fauna monitoring. 

The Quenda relocation and monitoring has been very successful but we have been shocked by the number of domestic cats that have been picked up on our cameras. 

Literally, dozens of cats have been captured on camera roaming the reserve on a nightly basis. I welcome the opportunity to share this evidence with you.

The suggestion that only one cat per year is sighted in Kings Park is merely evidence of a lack of resources or interest? 

The Town of Claremont is currently in the process of reworking their local cat laws but are restricted by the fact that the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee has no appetite for cat curfews. 

Until this position changes our threatened species, and indeed all our native fauna, remain just that, threatened and highly vulnerable to predation.

I have spoken with land managers across the metropolitan area and I can assure you that cat predation is a major issue in all of our urban bush reserves.

Nick Cook
Chair and Coordinator
Friends of Lake Claremont Claremont

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