Thursday, February 13, 2014

Age of feline registration will be reduced to four months under new recommendation

Kittens are cute...but far too many end up homeless.

Late last year SAT ran a post revealing the shocking truth about sex and cats - namely, they do it, they start young, and our misconceptions about their conceptions are contributing to feline over-population.

Change is afoot, in New South Wales at least. The Government will act on a number of recommendations of the Companion Animals Taskforce, including that the Companion Animals Regulation be amended to require a cat to be registered from four months of age.

Kristina Vesk, CEO of the Cat Protection Society of NSW, is one of many people who are over the moon about these changes. CPS pushed strongly for this change. We asked her what this all means.

I nearly cried with happiness when I found out the NSW Government agreed to the Taskforce’s recommendation that cats be registered from four months rather than the present six months. This change is going to be profound for feline welfare in NSW. We were passionate in proposing this change – cats are not dogs, and both male and female cats can be safely desexed from about two months of age. There is a very significant discount for registration of desexed animal; currently $49 to register a desexed cat or dog ($19 for a cat or dog owned by an eligible pensioner) versus $182 for an undesexed animal. This incentive clearly works as some 98 per cent of registered cats are desexed. However, the existing six-month registration age for cats is wrongly associated with a view that cats should not be, or need not be, desexed until that age.
 There is low awareness in the community that cats as young as four months can become pregnant. We know – we deal with the very surprised human clients who find their kitten has had kittens. While many unplanned litters are surrendered to pounds and shelters, others are abandoned or given away ‘free to good home’ and this just further contributes to unplanned feline population growth. Also, the behaviours associated with sexual maturity such as spraying, wandering and aggression are frequent causes for surrender or abandonment of owned cats. The simple act of earlier age desexing in cats will not only prevent unwanted litters but will improve the human-feline bond, increasing the likelihood of people keeping their cats. And of course, there are the health benefits for the desexed cats. Making four months the legal age for registration of cats sets a community standard that all cats should be desexed by that age. That’s a huge leap forward for feline welfare. The decision will be effected with an amendment to the Companion Animals Regulation but the Register itself needs to be redesigned to accommodate this and other changes. The date of effect will depend on the review of the Register so we’re not sure exactly when it will happen but in the meantime we have an opportunity to educate pet owners and vets about the change.
If you're concerned about feline overpopulation, another fantastic way to contribute (apart from early desexing) is by adopting an older cat. A lot of cats are given up, often when the owner must go into a nursing home or hospital. I met a client last week who generously adopted a 14 year old cat because the owner, who has gone into a high-dependency home, cannot care for her anymore. What a great thing to do!

On an unrelated note, I couldn't resist sharing this clip of a dolphin requesting assistance from a diver. (If you can't view this on your device, check here).What an honour.