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Keep my outdoor cat away from wildlife

If you decide you cannot keep your cat indoors, it is still possible to keep your cat away from wildlife by introducing novel features such as fence and tree guards, or even a cat-run or enclosure.

Pet ownership Action Behaviour Change
Cat enclosure

Cat enclosures can satisfy your pet’s curiousity while protecting wildlife. IMG: K. Taylor

ReWild Value: Level 5

Behaviour Change

In a submission to the Australian Government’s Inquiry into the problem of feral and domestic cats in Australia, the Threatened Species Recovery Hub estimated cats kill 1.89 billion reptiles, birds, and mammals per year in Australia. This figure excludes non-fatal injuries and entire animal classes such as amphibians, insects and arachnids.

390,000,000 of these deaths were attributed to domesticated cats.

Even well-fed cats hunt wildlife for fun. Despite many who claim “my cat does not hunt” it is often, inevitably, untrue. Most pet cats kill about 75 animals per year, according to Cats In Australia: Companion and Killer (published by CSIRO).

The Level 5 ReWild value reflects the importance of keeping introduced predators away from wildlife. While feral cats kill to survive, the natural instincts of our domestic animals, including hunting for sport or play, should not be underestimated.

In a less direct threat, burrowing mammals that come into contact with cat faeces can catch toxoplasmosis, with devastating effect. An article in The Conversation br Bronwyn Fancourt (2012) highlighted the impacts on Australian marsupials, from increased predation due to lethargy or blindness, or outright death from the growth of cysts.

Unlike other ReWild activities, Keep my outdoor cat away from wildlife is a behaviour-change action, which can significantly increase your ReWild score [see below].

Behaviour Change

Behaviour change goals allow us to protect the environment without necessarily adding habitat to our site. Because they require a longer term commitment, we have determined that any one of the following actions will automatically earn one full ReWild star to your rating. However, you can only achieve the behaviour change star once – you can’t add them together – although this shouldn’t stop you from doing more if you can.

The behaviour change actions are as follows:

Help my local environment group.

Keep my cat indoors from now on.

Keep my cat away from wildlife.

Keep my dog away from wildlife.

Make your garden safe from cat predation

Tree guards

Wrapping the trunk or branches of a large habitat tree with a hard-to-grip material or physical barrier can keep nesting wildlife safe from cats.

Tree guards don’t have to ruin your garden aesthetic, as there are commercial products available in a range of styles. Make sure the barrier is high enough so cats cannot leap and grip above it. Barriers need to be removable, so it doesn’t girdle or damage the tree trunk.

Cat Enclosures

Indoor cats do not need to be confined the house. Enclosures are available and provide the cats with much needed exercise, fresh air, rest, and playtime. There are many designs and providers available. These are a great way to enable indoor cats to still have access to the outdoors without being able to access ReWild sites.

Fence Guards

Some cat owners have reported success by attaching rollers to fence-tops and walls, preventing their cat from leaving the property to hunt. These have the added advantage of keeping other cats out of your garden!

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