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Domestic pets and wildlife

Domestic cats and dogs pose a serious threat to wildlife because of their natural hunting instincts.

Many pet owners don’t think about what their pets get up to outside but even the most docile of cats or dogs can prey on or kill native wildlife because they are natural hunters and carnivores.

As an example an average domestic cat can bring home 16 mammals, 8 birds and 8 reptiles each year and there are more than two and a half million domestic cats in Australia. Feral cats also feed on wildlife, there are an estimated 12 million feral cats across Australia, many of which were once someone’s pet until they were forgotten, let go or ran away. Cats have excellent eyesight, hearing and sense of smell. They can detect the smallest movement and can hear the scratching of an animal many metres away.

Every cat and dog deserves a safe home where it is loved, cared for and kept free from hazards. It is also possible to help your pets and wildlife co-exist safely by following the steps below:

  1. Keep your cat inside, at least at night when native animals are most active
  2. If possible keep dogs inside at night or confined to a secure space when native animals are most active
  3. Provide sufficient food and shelter for your pets
  4. Provide a safe environment for wildlife in your garden by having separate areas for pets e.g. a fully enclosed cat run.
  5. Identify your pet with a collar, tag and microchip & add collar bells for cats.
  6. De-sex your pets to prevent unwanted litters.
  7. Never feed a stray cat or dog unless you intend to care for it as a pet. If you notice feral animals or strays in the area, call your local Council or the Cat Protection Society.
  8. If you find a sick, injured or orphaned native animal in your house or yard, please keep all pets and people away to minimise stress to the animal and increase its chance of survival and read our rescue advice for more information.
  9. If there is the chance one of your pets has held a native animal in their mouth, even if the native animal looks OK, please take it to a vet for assessment, or call WIRES 1 300 094 737 for rescue assistance, as native animals need to be given antibiotics after they have had contact with the saliva of dogs and cats. If you let WIRES know the vet you’ve taken the animal to, we will follow up directly with the vet to bring the animal into care as soon as it’s received vet treatment.

Helpful contact numbers:

Catnip Modular Cat Parks 1 800 639 998
Cats Inside Out Cat Enclosures 0408 060 164
Cat Protection Society (02) 9519 7201
RSPCA (02) 9770 7555

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