One councillor expressed her “great dissatisfaction” with the fact some domestic cats still roam so freely in the shire.
One councillor expressed her “great dissatisfaction” with the fact some domestic cats still roam so freely in the shire.

Campaign to look at tackling roaming cats in ‘biodiverse’ shire

A CAMPAIGN for responsible cat ownership will be in the works in the Byron Shire.

Councillor Cate Coorey brought a motion calling for a campaign that promotes the protection of the shire’s biodiversity, promotes keeping cats contained in their properties and to promote the benefits for doing so before the council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday.

An addition suggested by deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye called for the council to also promote a voluntary night time cat curfew in the community.

In the motion, Cr Coorey said the shire sat in a region “with the highest frog, snake and marsupial diversity per unit area of land in Australia” while its bird biodiversity “is second only to the wet tropics”.

Managing the region’s roaming cats will help to protect that, she said.

She cited a 2017 University of South Australia study which tracked 428 cats and found almost all of them roamed further from home than their owners realised.

“I still feel a great dissatisfaction with how cats are out and about in our environment,” Cr Coorey said at the meeting.

With 90 animal species in the region listed as vulnerable or endangered, she said there was no good argument for cats to roam outdoors and stressed there were many ways for felines to be “contained and content”.

She said the council could learn from a campaign recently run by Tweed Shire Council to “direct people to better behaviours”.

“I think … we really need to think about how we treat cats in the same way we treat dogs and asking or advocating to make changes,” she said.

“Over time, changing behaviour is really about consistent messaging.

“We changed the way we think about rubbish.

“We changed the way we think about marriage.

“I’m grateful that councillors and staff are prepared to move forward with this.”

Cr Ndiaye said the council more often received reports about dogs misbehaving because “people see them and they’re more visible”.

She said on one of her last walks to the council pool before it closed (due to COVID-19 measures), she saw evidence of cats impacting on local wildlife.

“I found a bird wing completely decimated on the ground,” she said.

She said there were “a lot of responsible cat owners” but supported the motion, as did all other present councillors.


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