It makes me sad to see ‘Lost Cat’ posters in my neighbourhood. It means someone has lost a family member and is probably worried sick. They usually have a photo, along with a description and phone number to call.

Cat Trappers are on the Rise

I can’t help but wonder how many of these pets have been caught and taken to the pound by cat trappers.

While some believe they are helping the cats there are others who see cats as a pest that do not belong in our communities.

Most Councils freely loan out traps to any resident who asks for one.

When Council receives a request, a trap is delivered to a specific place.

Trapped cats are collected by Council officers and impounded at The Lost Dogs’ Home.

The traps catch cats humanely and are the same type as those used by animal welfare agencies such as the RSPCA and The Lost Dogs’ Home.

If cats are registered and/or microchipped, they are returned to their owners.

The Lost Dogs’ Home holds unidentifiable cats for eight days and assesses them to see whether they can be adopted out.

Yarra City Council Website

What isn’t made clear is that The Lost Dogs’ Home killed almost 90% of the cats they received in 2010. For the vast majority of impounded cats, being trapped is a virtual death sentence.

The Lost Dogs' Home killed 9 out of 10 cats in 2010

Pound Contractors to Benefit from Increased Impounds

For the holders of Melbourne’s Council pound contracts, an increase in impounds means more business. Some have been lobbying for changes that would increase the number of cats trapped.

  • the “Who’s For Cats” program has led to an increase in impounds
  • the introduction of cat curfews could lead to fines for trapped cats
A loophole in the legislation allows them to bypass the mandatory 8 day holding period for owners to locate their cats. They can kill any cat on entry if the owner is not identifiable and they say it’s wild, uncontrollable or diseased.

How can we improve this situation?

Notify Owners: If owners go to the trouble of posting notices on power poles, why shouldn’t those trapping cats also be required to do that same? Why not require Councils to post the details of trapped cats (including time, date and address of trapping) on the nearest power pole to where the cat was trapped?They could also be required to post a photo of the cat within a certain timeframe to their website and the website of their pound contractor.

Regulate Trapping: Being trapped can be highly stressful and poses serious welfare risks to cats:

  • lacerations on face and body from smashing into cages
  • risks from exposure to the elements
  • contraction of disease if the trap has not been properly cleaned
  • contraction of disease if mixed with other cats
  • poor handling
  • being left in hot cars
  • In the case of pets being trapped, it is also causes great distress to owners.

Perhaps cat trapping should restricted to trained and authorised animal welfare personnel?