The debate about having an indoor or outdoor cat has been raging between cat parents for years. Some feel that staying out and carousing are essential to a cat’s very nature. Others see a cat’s life outside as one fraught with peril and consider being outdoors an unnecessary risk. While this difference in opinion is going to keep spawning discussions about fair and responsible cat parenting, in Australia, the discussion may only be happening in theory alone.
This is because, if new legislation is passed, Australia may officially ban outdoor cats by placing a “24-hour curfew” on them.
Indoor Cats Only
Many may see this as a drive to improve the quality (and duration) of cats’ lives, what with indoor cats living 2+ times longer (on average) than their outdoor counterparts. However, the real impetus for this push is because outdoor house cats (a species not native to Australia) are decimating the populations of local wildlife.
One estimate believes that the 20-some million cats roaming around Australia are responsible for the deaths of 75 million native animals every day.
This move to keep cats indoors is designed to help separate these effective, non-native predators from the native, defenseless prey animals whose populations are being radically depleted.
What’s more, Australia won’t stop with just putting all cats on permanent house arrest. They are also working on legislation to make it legal to drastically cull the feral cat population. In other words, Australia wants to launch an all-out war on their feral cats, making it legal to kill them in order to control their numbers.
Preservation or Genocide?
Here is where we get into an ethical grey area. Clearly, this sounds like a feline genocide, and as a society that loves and cares for cats, this is hard to hear, let alone support. However, it is not like Australia is just doing this to be cruel. These feral cats, if left to their own devices, would keep increasing in population, while wiping out the populations of indigenous, endangered species like the bandicoot, bilby, bettong, and numbat. Scientists already posit that cats have been responsible for 28 of the 29 known native mammal extinctions in the past two hundred years. So, their methods may seem deplorable, but it is hard to ignore the fact that they are doing it for, what seems like, a fairly legitimate reason.
Gregory Andrews, Australia’s threatened-species commissioner put it best “It’s very important to emphasize, too, that we don’t hate cats. We just can’t tolerate the damage that they’re doing anymore to our wildlife.”
And that is likely true. However, there has to be a better solution than killing millions of cats. One such solution could be a large scale trap/neuter/release program, preventing these cats from reproducing. That may not be a viable option, though.
What do you think? Is Australia out of line imposing all these new laws on cats, or are they just looking out for little, endangered creatures that are at risk of being wiped out? Let us know in the comments.