Responses from many (22 of 28) cat owners on Bruny Island confirmed the current approach in supporting owners to desex, microchip and contain their beloved moggies. Interestingly, the bulk of owners were already doing at least some of these things, but 4 households said they would not contain their animals.
These results align closely with research conducted elsewhere showing cat owners are critical to success in reducing the impact of cats on wildlife and that they need costs of participation reduced, and plenty of support to help them make the changes for their cats. The full report is available here and makes interesting reading.
Of the 22 households surveyed, 19 own 1 or 2 cats, one has three cats and two households had more than 3 cats. These 2 households reported that this was due to having undesexed cats and to their feeding of strays.
Despite most households have desexed (96%) and microchipped (86% ) cats , about a quarter of all cats were not desexed or microchipped due to the large number of cats in one household.
Providing financial subsidies was identified most frequently by respondents to encourage desexing and micro-chipping. This was followed by offering these services on the island.
Key recommendations arising from the survey were to:
- continue individual one-on-one cat owner engagement to identify and address individual barriers and motivators;
- enhance the established programs particularly to build cat owner capability and motivation, specifically:
1. extend the advisory and design/building assistance to all individual households (with cats) requiring assistance.
2. develop and distribute a cat containment guide. The guide will include containment options; environmental enrichment for a cat’s physical and emotional needs; addressing stressors in individual cats; and training principles to support transition.
3. document and photograph new cat containment stories (& where appropriate video).
4. print and distribute (to individual households on Bruny) additional stickers (developed by students on Bruny).
5. purchase 4 GPS cat trackers for use with the program.
- continue to promote the By-law engagement program so that ideally all Bruny cat owners are engaged. Door-knock Bruny households (over summer) to discuss the By-laws and broader cat management on the island and ultimately engage more cat owners. Consideration will then be given to undertake a mail-out to all Bruny households and rate payers.