Feral cat in Brolga Street, Quilpie, western Queensland 1965. Things have changed...Photo Jeannie Fletcher (Flickr)
Cat registration is one of those political and emotional subjects that polarizes opinion. Australia lead the way. They do so because they are probably the most concerned of all countries about feral cat populations. This concern stems from a fear that the feral cat is decimating their "native wildlife".
The darker side of their attempts to tackle the "feral cat problem" is to shoot 'em. The brighter side is to generate a more responsible attitude amongst cat owners.
That is not to say that all cat owners in Australia are irresponsible; just that some are and cat registration seems to be an attempt to cut out of the equation these people who spoil the image of the domestic cat by allowing their cats to breed and to let them roam and disappear or worse abandon them.
Apparently twenty thousand cats are euthanised yearly in Queensland. These are abandoned or lost cats. In truth, they are not euthanised. Most are simply killed - lets be honest.
In Queensland, Australia there is a legal requirement to register your cat with the local council. Cat registration in Queensland has been in force since 12th December 2010.
When registered the cat wears a collar and tag. The authorities also recommend micro-chipping but this is separate, different and not legally obligatory. Neutering cats is also not a legal requirement but it is recommended (of course).
Cat registration in Queensland is intended to reduce the number of feral and stray cats. The authorities say that these cats have an adverse impact on the environment.
Cat registration means that if a cat is lost it can be returned to its owner.
Cat registration is one aspect of a wider policy in Queensland to inculcate a more responsible attitude towards cat ownership in the state. They have created an education campaign called, "Cat Smart" developed by the Queensland Companion Animal Management Group (QCAMG) that has as its remit the objective to promote the benefits of cat ownership. The benefits are felt by the cat, the owner, the community and environment.
Cat Smart is promoting:
- Microchipping and tagging for easy return of lost cats
- Desexing (neutering)
- Keeping cats in an enclosed environment - cat enclosure
I have had my differences with Australia over their attitude towards the stray and feral domestic cat (ground shooting) in the past but this seems a good idea.
What do you think? Should the USA introduce a scheme like this? Perhaps a more enlightened state (California?) could make a start?
Or the UK - but I don't see the same kind of feral cat problem in the UK. Maybe it is too damn cold for them.
How are people responding in Queensland to this legal requirement? Apparently as at 13th Dec 2010, half of all domestic cats are not registered although cat registration rates are increasing. Not a great start as half the human population of cat caretakers in Queensland are breaking the law.
It will take time for people to adjust.