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Cat microchipping aimed at reducing strays and foundlings

Thursday, 08 March 2012 10:00

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sad catPreviously, lost cats were often mistaken for strays and inadvertently euthanised if there was no shelter available. Lost and stray cats pose an environmental risk as they may become feral and hunt native species. Image: Gary RobertsonNEW legislation governing cat ownership requiring all domestically owned cats to be microchipped, registered and sterilised has come into effect.

Minister for Local Government John Castrilli says the legislation will allow lost cats to be returned to owners, regulate the cat population and allow local government to deal with irresponsible owners.

“The new Cat Act then gives local governments the power to deal with owners that are not responsible, including cat hoarders, and cats that are not owned,” he says.

Previously, lost cats were often mistaken for strays and inadvertently euthanised if there was no shelter available. Lost and stray cats pose an environmental risk as they may become feral and hunt native species.

Cat ownership regulation will mean that more lost cats will be returned sooner, preventing them from turning feral and allowing organisations to focus more on abandoned and stray cats.

The main cat welfare organisation in Western Australia, the Cat Haven supports the new legislation.

Cat Haven’s Public Relations Coordinator Mr Settelmaier says, “We believe that these laws combined with responsible pet ownership will stop cats becoming feral and causing damage to native wildlife”.

“In 2011, Cat Haven microchipped more than 3000 cats.

Feral cats cause an estimated $144 million in environmental and economic damage each year according to a 2004 report by the Cooperative Research Centre for Invasive Animal Species and nationwide population estimates range from five million to 18 million. They can have up to four litters of two to four kittens on average per year. Endangered species threatened by feral cats include nineteen mammal species and several invertebrate and bird species. Feral cats can also carry toxoplasmosis, a parasite dangerous to humans with weakened immune systems.

Registration costs have yet to be finalised but the City of Joondalup proposes a cost of ten dollars per year or $25 for three years for sterilised cats. The Australian Veterinary Association estimates an average microchipping cost of $56 within the metropolitan area.

Cat lovers need no longer worry that their pets may be accidentally euthanised if lost as the microchip contains the owner’s details.

“When a cat is microchipped, its owners details are recorded to make it easier to reunite them if the animal gets lost”, Mr Settelmaier says.

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