Regulation of domestic cat ownership to protect urban wildlife: a justification based on the precautionary principle
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Jacky Grayson, Michael Calver, 2004. "Regulation of domestic cat ownership to protect urban wildlife: a justification based on the precautionary principle", Urban Wildlife: More than meets the eye, Daniel Lunney, Shelley Burgin
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While it is undeniable that both feral cats and owned domestic cats prey on native wildlife, evidence that this is a threat to the viability of wildlife populations is contentious, particularly in the suburbs. Where uncertainty is great or the risks are high, the precautionary principle is a guide as to whether or not action should be taken to regulate domestic cats. This involves an evaluation of the available evidence and the extent of uncertainty, as well as consideration of the viewpoints of major stakeholders. Applying this approach leads to the conclusion that wildlife can be protected while improving cat welfare. Containing cats at night not only separates cats and nocturnal wildlife, but minimises trauma from both cat fights and road accidents while reducing nuisance to neighbours from caterwauling and fighting. Desexed cats no longer contribute toward unwanted stray and feral cat populations that depredate native wildlife populations and are often less of a nuisance to neighbours and themselves as spraying and fighting are reduced. Cats with identification can be returned to their owners should they be found lost or injured, while problem cats can be identified. Therefore, the cat welfare issue is the key to a successful precautionary approach because it achieves wildlife protection while respecting the interests of cat owners.