Animal Welfare

Collaboration the Key to Controlling Cats on the Tiwi Islands

Keeping cats as companion animals has been increasing in popularity on the Tiwi Islands with local community members expressing that cats are valuable in assisting to control rat and mice within their homes.  But when you consider that one female cat and her offspring can produce up to 500 kittens a year it is clear to see why action was needed to assess the impact cats were having on the community.

It’s why AMRRIC teamed up with the University of New England and the Tiwi Land Council to deliver a program funded by the Threaten Species Commissioner on the Tiwi Island community of Wurrumiyanga from 5-9th June.  The University of New England conducted research that included camera surveillance, door to door surveys and four hourly patrols to monitor cat activity during the day and the night.  Based on findings of the research the program determined that the best approach to controlling cats in the community was to undertake a surgical desexing program as well as to provide community education around the impacts cats can have on the community and surrounding wildlife.  This approach considered the community’s values which is vital to the success of the program.

AMRRIC delivered six education sessions to the Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic Primary School focussing on the impacts of cats on wildlife and the importance of surgical desexing.  In addition Traditional Owners worked with AMRRIC to develop a video about responsible cat ownership to play in the local shop and health clinic. The video was a huge success with community members stopping to watch and discuss the video.

A community cat awareness BBQ was also held with the support of the local Red Cross Centre. Over 100 community members attended, viewing cat education materials and enquiring about cat desexing, and the impacts their cats have on the bush land and native animals.

As a result of working with local community members, the program was a great success with a total of 30 cats being desexed over two days.  It’s just another example of how collaboration can achieve great results.