The RSPCA declares 90% of cats as fair game for an abusive death

September 8, 2017

The RSPCA NSW has released a new campaign today, which features a cute promotional video;

Which links out to a campaign page - This page features a bunch of interesting ideas:

A pair of undesexed cats can lead to 20,000 offspring in just two years. Desexing prevents these unwanted pregnancies.
Only 10 per cent of cats are microchipped. That means 90 per cent of lost cats in NSW are unlikely to ever find their way back home. It’s never too late to get your cat chipped.
Only 3 per cent of lost cats are returned to their original home. 75 per cent of cats have no official owner. Protect your cat, or take responsibility for one in your area.
35,000 cats end up in shelters, pounds and rescue groups every year in NSW.
80 per cent of cats in the care of RSPCA NSW have no microchip, collar or tag and cannot be identified.

The most interesting stats in this, from the position of cat advocacy and management are probably these two;

  • 90% of cats aren't chipped
  • 75% of cats aren't "owned"

Last month the RSPCA released a position paper, sponsored and paid for by the Threatened Species Commissioner's department. And the recommendations of the paper are as follows;

The very first recommendation - literally recommendation numero uno - is "declaring feral cats as a pest species"... "across all states and territories".

But why? What would be the benefit of declaring feral cats a pest species? The paper goes on to explain;

Declaring an animal as a pest species places restrictions on movement, keeping, sale and release of that species. It may also require landowners to control or destroy declared pests on their property or to notify authorities about their presence.

It also provides legal protection for landholders undertaking trapping and poisoning, although this also means there may be less incentive to choose the most humane methods available.

In those states that have not declared feral cats as a pest species, people who undertake control measures may risk prosecution as these activities may contravene animal welfare legislation, as some control measures will inevitably result in animal cruelty.

So in this instance the RSPCA is advocating for less welfare protections for a known group of animals. Hangon, take a moment to think about that for a second. Our major animal welfare group is advocating for less protection for a group of animals (cats who have been labeled "feral") and more protections from prosecution from cruelty from those who seek to kill them.

In fact, they're going even one step further. By advocating that cats labelled "feral" are declared a pest species, landowners are compelled by law to destroy these animals. No one can save them - no one can remove them from an area where they might be harmed, nor can they be released (TNR). By law, a cat labelled "feral" must be slaughtered under RSPCA recommendations. The RSPCA is lobbying for legislating expanded cat culling. Our major animal welfare group.

But that's not even the end of it. The RSPCA goes on to recognise that by compelling these landholders to kill these cats, and protecting these same landholders from prosecution under welfare laws, that is known to incentivise using less humane methods to kill cats. It decreases welfare outcomes, for cats.

But you know, fun cat videos everyone!

So how does this Cat Management Paper effect cats?

  • 90% of cats aren't chipped
  • 75% of cats aren't "owned"

In Queensland - a state where cats labelled "feral" have been listed as a pest species, Councils have a very specific way of assessing which cats are labelled "feral";

A is Council's "thorough assessment, temperament test" process, in their own words;

If a trapped cat swipes or hisses from his cage = feral. I mean obviously. The two cats in this story were seized and impounded by officers as "feral". This state of the art, shake-the-cage-and-see-if-they-spittle cat "temperament appraisal" protocol is being rolled out across Brisbane, currently.

See also: Brisbane cat cull probably used leg-hold traps (you can do these things when you're immune from welfare legislation, you see)

But it's ok, because if a cat's not chipped, then we know he's "feral".

  • 90% of cats aren't chipped

And if he doesn't have an owner, or a home, or isn't kept indoors, then he's definitely "feral".

  • 75% of cats aren't "owned"

Just like that, the RSPCA has thrown - by its own admission on cat populations - up to 9 out of 10 cats, to the mercy of local council officers and landowners, while recommending that they be compelled to kill these cats, and be immune from prosecution under welfare legislation.

Certainly, a donation to the RSPCA NSW and Cat Ballads can help, some of the least persecuted and most privileged of all the cats - indoor, microchipped housepets. They really help the shit out of those guys.

Unfortunately, the truly needy cats - the other 9 out of 10 animals who either don't have a microchip, or aren't owned by a single owner, or have never had an owner - those cats are cactus, thanks to the RSPCA's "Best Practice Cat Management in Australia" paper.

The RSPCA is advocating for their removal and destruction of 9 out of 10 cats. They are working hard to remove any and all of those protections these cats may have had from being harmed, or killed in inhumane ways. They are working to help cat killers, and torturers avoid prosecution. While also making it impossible for other groups - rescues and community cat groups - to step in and save these cats.

Our major animal welfare group.

Imagine for one moment if a national dolphin advocacy group neither furthered the view that wild dolphins deserved protection, nor promoted the science showing why they deserved compassion. In fact, they were often seen to be supporting laws and campaigns which harmed dolphins, including making caring for them illegal and promoting community dolphin trapping programs. Also, while taking money from the public in the name of dolphin protection, they simultaneously supported the government in the wholesale slaughter of dolphins by taking an active, paid roll as their primary exterminator. The biggest killer of dolphins are the dolphin protection groups themselves.

When we use ‘dolphins’, the conflict is obvious.

However, cat ‘welfare’ groups straddle this ethical divide unashamedly. Killing and promoting killing. Taking money in the name of protection, while also taking money to kill.

Profitable and popular – why cats can’t get a fair deal in Australia - Saving Pets (2010)

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