Stray cat-astrophe

Australian Animal Protection Society''s Sean Coleman and Megan Seccull with cats ''Soy Sauce'' and Milo during a speed-dating weekend. 192821_05 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong Council has put a pause on trapping stray and feral cats during ‘kitten season’ due to a shortage of space at the region’s pound.

A stretch of warm weather and ready food supplies have created prime breeding conditions for cats, according to the council.

As a result, the council’s contractor The Lost Dogs Home reached its 260- cat capacity at its Cranbourne and North Melbourne pounds in mid-April.

On top of that, its foster carers were offering short-term offsite accommodation for up to 250 cats and kittens.

“When intake is high, having 500-plus cats in our care is certainly feasible,” a spokesperson for The Lost Dogs Home said.

The home had advised the council to put on hold its hiring of cat traps for two weeks, with a view of increasing its capacity at Cranbourne, the spokesperson said.

Greater Dandenong city planning director Jody Bosman said that the council had stopped trapping cats for a “short period”.

It had requested people with council traps to not set them until further notice, Mr Bosman said.

“Any cats surrendered to Council are still being impounded at the Lost Dogs Home as normal.”

In the nine months since 1 July, the council had impounded 556 cats – which are typcially ferals, strays in the vast majority.

According to its website, a stray female cat can produce up to 60 kittens in a year.

Australian Animal Protection Society general manager Sean Coleman supported mandatory desexing of pet cats.

He said the Dandenong South shelter was also feeling the strain during what is regarded as the annual ‘kitten season’.

With about 80 in the shelter, the numbers were less than previous years because of improved management, Mr Coleman said. It also had much reduced euthanasia rates.

“We receive multiple calls and walk-ins each day regarding litters of stray kittens with nowhere else to go.

“The Greater Dandenong Council does their part but we still receive a massive influx.”

With the hope of swiftly re-homing 40 cats and kittens, the AAPS was holding a ‘cat speed dating event’ with reduced adoption prices from 26-28 April.

Using questionnaires, owners were matched with compatible pets, categorised as either affectionate ‘snuggle bugs’, more distant ‘Miss/Mr Independents’ or the ‘party animals’.

Then they spent an hour to get to know their felines and to make enquiries to their match-makers.

“Cat Speed Dating is a wonderful way for people to think about different personality types, and what type of cat might suit them and their home,” Mr Coleman said.