Cat populations are rising in remote indigenous communities in Australia. Inthese communities, the cat-human relationship is seen as one of companionship,rather than ownership. Thus, the cats’ right to roam free is perceived to beimportant. However, free-roaming cats can have negative impacts onbiodiversity through predation and transmission of diseases. To inform futurestrategies, the aim of this study was to review the global cat populationmanagement practices that could potentially be implemented in remoteindigenous communities.

This study involved a systematic review. The following search terms wereentered in the Google Scholar search tool: “cat” OR “feline” AND “populationmanagement” OR “population control” AND “owned” OR “semi-owned” OR “community”OR “free roaming.” To determine current practices, the filter “since 2015” wasalso used. A total of 13 articles were deemed relevant out of the 987 articlesfound. The relevant articles were divided into two separate categories, fieldwork (n=8) and simulations (n=5). Following the systematic review, threemethods were found to be the most common and effective strategies used tocontrol cat populations. The first method was Surgical Sterilisation (SS).This method requires owned cats to be transported to a facility for surgicalsterilisation after which the cats are returned to their home. The secondmethod is Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) which involves trapping, desexing andreturning cats (usually unsocialised cats) to where they are living. The thirdmethod, Trap-Remove (TR), involves trapping and removing social cats viaadoption and unhealthy cats via euthanasia.

The main findings of this review indicate that a combination of long-termTNR/SS programs combined with TR, provides the most humane strategy to managecat populations in remote Indigenous communities in Australia. Furtherresearch investigating the feasibility of implementing these methods needs tooccur, and cultural differences need to be carefully considered and integratedto achieve a sustainable management strategy.

Kennedy B, Cumming B, Brown WY (2020) Global strategies for populationmanagement of domestic cats (Felis catus): A systematic review to inform bestpractice management for remote Indigenous communities in Australia. Animals10(4):663

Reported in RSPCA Animal Welfare Science Update

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