RSPCA NSW Update: A Multifaceted Approach Needed to Manage Cat Overpopulation

On September 7, 2023, the Federal Government released an updated draft threat abatement plan aimed at addressing the issue of feral cats.

RSPCA NSW acknowledges that in some circumstances it can be necessary to manage populations of wild animals, including feral cats, to reduce negative impacts on the environment and threatened species. Where this happens, management activities must be justified, effective, and humane.

The plan recommends trapping by members of the public, which may potentially have adverse effects on the well-being of cats, including owned, semi-owned, and unowned cats. It is of utmost importance that the welfare of all animals, native, introduced, and domestic, is carefully considered and managed in a humane manner.

We’re also concerned with some of the language that has been used in conjunction with this plan and firmly believes that demonising any animal, even when there is a need to control them, is not the way to promote good animal welfare and could have unintended negative consequences.

RSPCA NSW strongly advocates for a more comprehensive approach to managing cat overpopulation. Our stance is reflected in our ‘Keeping Cats Safe at Home’ program, a four-year-long behavioural change initiative. The program encourages and supports cat owners in preventing their cats from roaming freely beyond their properties, with the dual purpose of ensuring the safety of cats and safeguarding native wildlife. This project employs a multifaceted strategy that includes targeted desexing, microchipping, community and school-based education programs, and the promotion of a ‘safe at home lifestyle.’ Ultimately, the program aims to highlight the positive value of cats in society, rather than demonising them.

It is also worth noting that feral cats are just one of the contributors to the endangered species list.

RSPCA Australia is reviewing the Federal Government’s updated draft threat abatement plan for feral cats and will provide a full submission to the Government.