Cat Fight Continues

An online petition with more than 1,387 signatures and growing by the day is calling on Hornsby Council to overturn its decision to euthanise feral cats and lock up domestic cats in the home.

At its August meeting, Council unanimously voted to put the two contentious motions forward to the 2022 Local Government NSW Annual Conference this month for consideration.

However, both motions have come under fire by pet protection agencies, who have branded the proposals ‘deadly’, likening them to ‘convenience killing’.

The Animal Justice Party in conjunction with the independent Australian Pet Welfare Organisation recently protested against the motions with a stall at Hornsby Mall. In addition to signatures collected at the stall, an online petition was tabled at Council’s meeting on 14th September.

Animal Justice Party Sydney North West Regional Group Leader Sheila Millgate said neither motion would offer a solution for effective cat management.

“The Animal Justice Party stands by its stance on these deadly motions. They should be abandoned. The cats that Hornsby Council have trapped are not feral cats but semi-owned cats that are being fed by caring people in the lowest socioeconomic areas around Hornsby’s CBD,” Ms Millgate told the Dooral Roundup.

“Many of these cats may be un-microchipped; deemed feral by Hornsby Council and would be immediately euthanised under the planned motions that Hornsby Council wish to take State wide,” she said.

“Councils have a duty to attempt to re-home cats that they trap but instead want to again kill them to save them the time and expense of doing so and to change recently agreed rehoming laws to which all parties supported less than six months ago,” Ms Millgate explained.

“We call on Council to abandon these motions and to instead invest in free desexing programs and educating residents to keep cats inside at night,” she added. However, the Animal Justice Party has been called out for spreading “inaccuracies”.

Hornsby Greens Councillor Tania Salitra said she was “concerned by the inaccuracies and assumptions” made in the petition. Councillor Salitra said she encourages residents to read the motions and their backgrounds in council’s Business Papers.

“Cats contained within their owner’s premises in Australia live much longer, happier, healthy lives than roaming domestic cats who are exposed to life-threatening possibilities of infection from cat fights, dog attacks, being hit by a car and feline viruses,” Councillor Salitra told the Dooral Roundup. She added that cats were in fact lethal predators who, despite being well-fed, would “hunt native wildlife for fun”.

“Wildlife carers and vets have told me of the excruciating pain native animals suffer from cat toxins inflicted by a single scratch, and other horrific injuries. Vets have assured me that locating a microchip is relatively easy,” Councillor Salitra added.

Kenthurst resident and Hills Greens Councillor Mila Kasby, a veterinarian, said “microchips are very easily found by vets and vet nurses”. “We scan our patients routinely. Council rangers and impounding officers we deal with also have no problem locating them,” she said.

Councillor Kasby said she could provide first-hand accounts of “owners telling us that their cats regularly hunt and injure/kill wildlife, especially birds and lizards”. “We also see the results of these attacks when injured wildlife is brought to us for treatment. Many have sustained nasty tooth puncture wounds from cats, leading to devastating infections,” she added. Clr Kasby was so concerned that she was part of Hills Council’s move in June to pass a motion to lobby the NSW Government to allow for councils to enforce cat containment regulations. Similar to Hornsby Council, this has been put to the Local Government NSW Annual Conference this month.

“Other states (Victoria, WA) and the ACT are all well in front of NSW on this, already adopting containment rules or curfews as they realise it’s a win-win for both cats and wildlife,” she said.

A Council spokeswoman said the petition would be referred to the appropriate Council officer for review.