July is National Desexing Month! This is a national initiative undertaken by the National Desexing Network (NDN) & Animal Welfare League QLD to link pet owners to services where they can receive discounted desexing from participating vets & Councils around the country.
The goal of National Desexing Month is to reduce the overpopulation of companion animals for the benefit of their health, animal rescue organisations and our environment. Desexing can prevent accidental pregnancies and abandonment of these litters which can impact the health of these animals as well as wildlife.
This year, Conversation Co has been thinking a lot about cats!
‘Did you know? One un-desexed female cat and her offspring can produce up to 5,000 cats in seven years?’ (Moreland City Council). Victoria has a significant feral cat problem, threatening critically endangered native species like; mountain pygmy possums and orange bellied parrots. ‘Every year, feral cats kill 1.4 billion native Australian animals — around the same number that died in the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfires when more than 73,000 square miles burned’ (Ham 2021, Smithsonian Mag). Desexing our pet cats can have an impact on the number of feral cats in the wild, and coupled with good cat management, can reduce the burden on wildlife in the areas we live in, as ‘3.8 million pet cats kill up to 390 million animals every year’ like birds, lizards and marsupials.
From February to June, we have had the privilege to work with the City of Whittlesea and Moreland City Council to facilitate public engagement programs surrounding cat management. Both councils wanted to engage their communities to have conversations about cats after it was raised in consultations for their Domestic Animal Management Plans late last year. Conversation Co conducted the engagement for these plans too, so when the opportunity arose to keep chatting about our furry friends we jumped on it.
We have had the pleasure of holding pop-ups in public places across Whittlesea to talk with the community about introducing a cat curfew and Mandatory desexing. In Moreland, where desexing is already mandated, we chatted to community members about introducing a cat curfew and what supports residents might need to transition to cat confinement. Across both councils, the community showed overwhelming support for cat confinement and desexing. The main reasons participants gave were protecting wildlife and environment alongside protecting cats themselves.
Through research, chats with community members and interviews with animal protection industry stakeholders we have learnt a couple of things:
- Desexing cats has benefits to wildlife and surrounding natural areas.
- Desexed pets generally live longer and are less likely to contract diseases and complications during pregnancy and birth.
- Desexed pets are less prone to roaming, fighting, scenting and getting lost or injured.
- Pets are important parts of lives, members of our families supporting our health and mental wellbeing.
- Our pets are each unique with different personalities & needs; a management approach needs to holistic and tailored to suit our pets strengths.
Here are some pictures of a Marli the cat coming to visit & give feedback at our pop-up at CERES Brunswick:
About Ella West
Ella, our Engagement Support, is an experienced social researcher with a background in not-for-profit international development. She has experience engaging with diverse communities in India and Cambodia in community development planning, monitoring and evaluation. Ella has worked supporting refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived communities in Melbourne. She is interested in hearing peoples’ stories and working with their strengths to create unique projects that are committed to social justice and resilient communities.