There are currently around half a million unowned cats in South Australia.
Most cats and kittens brought to shelters are from free-living colonies or semi-owned.
Semi-owned cats are those that have food put out for them, but nobody claims ownership of, or responsibility for, them. Many semi-owned cats are either lost or have been dumped.
Free–living and semi-owned cats prey on wildlife, spray strong smelling urine around houses and cars, fight with companion cats, spread disease, yowl at night, and go to the toilet in gardens and sandpits. These cats often suffer from very poor health. The average life expectancy of an unowned or semi-owned cat is three years, compared to 12-15 years for an owned, desexed cat.
If you own a cat and can no longer care for it, do not dump it. Not only is this cruel but it is also illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 1985. Try to rehome the cat or take it to a shelter.
Make sure your cat is desexed and is appropriately identified, ideally a microchip, collar and tag. Many adult cats delivered to shelters are obviously owned, but without any identification they cannot be reunited with their owners.
Feeding a cat that is not yours is not caring for it. Take it to your local vet or a shelter. It will be scanned for a microchip, examined for a desexing tattoo and have a general health check. If it is unowned or cannot be reunited with its owner, you have the option of taking full ownership of the cat or it can remain at the shelter. If you decide to keep a stray cat you need to be prepared to do the responsible thing and have it desexed and consider containing it to your property. Feeding unowned cats allows them to breed, continuing the cycle of nuisance and feral cats spreading disease and killing wildlife.
The population model below was produced by Dr Carole Webb, Feline Association of Victoria.
AUSTRALIAN POPULATION MODEL 2010 - CITY FELINE
Owned cat population = 500,000
Average life span of a cat = 7 years
No. of kittens required for replacement each year = 71,428
On average population spread of 52% females,
No. of Female cats in population = 260,000
Average litter no/year = 2.1
Average litter size/year = 2.85 kittens (allows 30% mortality)
Average no kittens/year/undesexed female = 5.99
% of females not desexed = 9.8%
No. of females not desexed = 25,480
hence kittens produced per year = 152,625
% of females having one litter before desexing = 18%
hence contributing kittens per 7 years = 133,380
thus kittens produced per year = 19,054
TOTAL KITTENS PRODUCED PER YEAR = 171,679