The registration of domestic cats with the local authority is quite widely discussed as a way of reducing the number of stray and therefore, ultimately, feral cats. In short, cat registration is a way of improving the standard of cat ownership. However, many see it as too intrusive on a person’s freedoms. It is a form of the “nanny state”.
Australia leads the way on this and the third most populous city in the state of South Australia, Whyalla, has a law that requires people to register their cat.
We have a news report on what is described as a “huge success” by the Whyalla City Council.
In the first month of the law, 680 cats were submitted for registration. They expect the number to rise significantly but they see this as a good start. I can’t assess that figure because we don’t know the number of registrable cats in Whyalla. However the human population of Whyalla is about 20,000. 27% of households have a cat(s). That does not really help. To me 680 seems like a small number. To the council spokesperson, Matt Werner, it is much more than the council had anticipated.
Euthanasia had risen, which was expected. The average has risen from 5-6 per month to 14-21 per month after registration. Both figures seem low compared to what I am used to reading with respect to US figures but the increase is substantial (3X approximately).
We don’t have a report as to why there is such an increase but it must be because cat owners who are uncommitted, let’s call them “casual cat owners”, decided that registration would place to much of a burden on them. There are probably penalities in the law for certain offences in relation to cat caretaking. I expect some cat owners were unable to see themselves as being able to comply with the law and gave up and decided to relinquish (abandon) their cat(s).
The council expects more cats to be abandoned over the coming months but thereafter to see a reduction. I suppose they mean that the genuine cat guardians will remain and these people will be willing to comply with the law.
Part of the law includes obligatory microchipping. On July 5th, a microchipping day, 185 animals were microchipped in four hours. They considered that a good day. Clearly a lot more people are microchipping their cats. This is a good thing as it allows stray cats to be returned to their owners. The question is should the cat’s owners remain the cat’s owners?
Cats that are not microchipped are held at an animal rescue center for 72 hours max. and if no one claims the animal he/she is “taken to the vet” (a euphemism for killed humanely).
The council say the purpose of cat registration is to return cats to their owners. I expect it is much more than that: it is about improving the standards of cat caretaking with the intention of removing cats from the streets and common land to reduce preying on wildlife.