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South West conservation group offering cat owners rebates for building enclosed catios

Craig DuncanBusselton Dunsborough Times
A conservation group is offering rebates to cat owners who build a catio.
Camera IconA conservation group is offering rebates to cat owners who build a catio. Credit: Shantelle Kopis

A suburban street is a dangerous place for a pet cat — and it is even worse for the wildlife they hunt.

But more people than ever are championing pet cat containment, keeping them on properties for the safety of their feline friends and the environment.

Thanks to one South West conservation group, cat owners in the City of Busselton, Shire of Capel, Shire of Augusta-Margaret River and the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup are able to get a $200 rebate for building a catio.

GeoCatch is encouraging South West pet owners to champion responsible pet ownership through its catio rebate program, with biodiversity project leader Nicole Lincoln hoping they can change the behaviours of cat owners new and old.

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To be eligible to apply for the rebate, people must live within one of the councils and have a cat or be planning to get a cat.

Ms Lincoln said they must also have an idea where to place their catio and demonstrate the cats will be able to move freely from the house to the outdoors.

“It’s got to be a permeable structure so fresh air and the breeze can get in,” she said.

“We always say go as big as you can for the welfare of your cat.

Plenty of enrichment activities means cats such as Salem can enjoy being outside without putting themselves or other animals at risk
Camera IconPlenty of enrichment activities means cats such as Salem can enjoy being outside without putting themselves or other animals at risk Credit: Shantelle Kopis

“There is not a one size fits all, but there are features that fit all.”

WA Feral Cat Working Group executive Dr Bruce Webber has previously told the Times cats contained to properties are likely to live 10 years longer than roaming cats.

“By keeping cats contained, owners essentially eliminate the risk of death due to vehicle strike, animal attacks, diseases, being stolen, abused or impounded,” he said.

“Being a responsible cat owner is about keeping your pet cat happy and healthy.”

Beyond the risks specific to our feline friends, cats wreak havoc on the native environment. Dr Webber said pet cats alone kill more than a million native animals in Australia every day.

Ms Lincoln said containing pet cats not only kept them safe but looked after other forms of wildlife.

She said the project — funded by the State Government’s NRM program — aimed to protect the critically endangered western ringtail possums which call the region home.

GeoCatch have teamed up with Margret River Mitre 10 and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to run a DIY catio workshop on June 8, with cat behaviourist Dr Heather Crawford to lend her expertise and knowledge to attendees.

For more information, visit geocatch.asn.au.

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