Ask G

Ask G: Eco-cats

Cat have natural hunting skills that can harm native animals, so here are some tips to stop them in their tracks.

I really love my cat, but I know she's probably not the most eco-friendly pet. How do I make sure she's not harming the environment?

-- Melinda, Qld.


Credit: iStockphoto

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Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment estimates that a single domestic cat with a loving home, but that is allowed to roam free, kills 25 native birds, mammals and reptiles each year.

Multiply that by the millions of cats in Australia and you're looking at a massacre.

If you have a kitten or are about to buy one, consider raising it as an indoors pet.

Kersti Seksel, a vet and president of the Australian Companion Animal Council, says keeping your cat indoors is "perfectly appropriate", as long as you provide a stimulating and safe environment.

And there are health benefits for your pet as well as for wildlife. "Cats are much safer if they're kept indoors…they don't get run over by cars, they don't get into cat fights," she says.

But what if you have an older cat that is already accustomed to an outdoors lifestyle?

Keeping your cat indoors at night - when it and many native animals are most active - is a must.

Then, for daylight hours, bells on cats' collars can reduce the number of wildlife casualties.

A new CatBib made of wetsuit material is even more effective. A study by wildlife experts at Murdoch University found that it stopped 4/5 cats from killing wildlife altogether.