Unowned & Semi-Owned Cats
There are currently around half a million unowned cats in South Australia.
Each year approximately 15,000 cats are surrendered to South Australian shelters and of these cats, at least 70% are euthanized. They may arrive at shelters as strays, ferals or owned cats, but thousands of healthy, sociable cats are destroyed because there are not enough good homes for them.
90% of cats presented to shelters are unwanted kittens. Most kittens brought to shelters are too young, too wild, or too sick to be re-homed, and have to be destroyed.
Most cats brought to shelters are from free-living colonies or semi-owned and most kittens are the products of these cats.
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 defecate 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, de-sexed 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 re-home the cat or take it to a shelter.
Minimise the chance of your cat becoming lost, make sure your cat is de-sexed and is appropriately identified, ideally a microchip and collar and tag. Many adult cats delivered to shelters are obviously owned, but without any identification they cannot be reunited with their owners.
Do not feed a cat that is not yours, 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 de-sexing tattoo and have a general health check. If it is un-owned 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 de-sexed 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.
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