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Welcome to the Shire of MERREDIN

From the Rangers Desk

Published on Monday, 14 March 2022 at 10:41:16 AM

By Sarah Patterson, WA Contract Ranger Services

Hi there, for those that don’t know me my name is Sarah and I have been the Ranger at the Shire of Merredin since August 2021. Though my time here has been relatively short, I have really enjoyed my experiences in Merredin so far and look forward to meeting new people and assisting residents with all their Ranger enquiries.

I am writing this article today to address the main issue I have come across while working in Merredin - feral cats. There is undoubtedly a massive cat problem in Merredin and not just here, but a lot of the Wheatbelt towns and Shires too.

In just over 6 months I have rescued, adopted, syringe fed, and taken over 70 cats and kittens to rescue groups in Northam and Shenton Park. These rescue organisations are completely volunteer run, non-government funded and rely heavily on donations and charity from the public to keep afloat. A number of these rescues are at full capacity and are currently receiving more cats and kittens than they are able to adopt out.

Being able to rescue cats in kittens is no easy fete. I have been bitten and scratched countless times by cats that are trapped and impounded. One time I even had to go to
hospital to receive wound care and a round of antibiotics.

Stray cats are often being fed by someone local, and once they start feeding them, the cats then they show up with their kittens, and then I receive a call asking to come and impound them as they become a nuisance.

It is important to remember that under the Cat Act 2011, an owner is defined as the below;


Based on the above definition, if you are feeding/caring for a stray cat, you are the owner, and based on responsible and legal cat ownership, you are required to ensure that all cats in your care that are over 6 months are steralised, microchipped and registered with the local Shire.

Steralisation is the most important thing you can do for these animals, not only to stop unwanted breeding, but to stop more stray and feral cats from roaming the streets attacking wildlife. Cats are capable of having 3 litters per year which can contain 7-8 kittens – that is a lot of cats! I have spoken to the nurses at Merredin Vet regarding the costing for steralisation, and an owner is looking at approximately $180 for a female cat, however further reductions can occur if you are eligible.

Allowing your cats to breed and then having the Ranger come and take them away is not a solution to the issue. It is also not fair on the adoption and volunteer organisations to take on these strays.

We as a community need to work together to ensure we are all practicing responsible pet ownership for our cats.

While there is currently no law that states a cat must be locked inside 24/7, my advice to cat owners is to make sure your cat is steralised, microchipped, and make sure they are registered. Remember, if you are feeding a stray or feral cat, then you are deemed the owner and it is your responsibility to abide with the Cat Act 2011. A reminder that under the Cat Act 2011 it is also an offence to give away kittens that are not microchipped or steralised, with a modified penalty of up to $200 per kitten.

What is a feral cat?

Feral behaviour includes being fearful of human contact, hissing, running at the cage, scruffy fur, ears back, aggressive in nature, and a general look of ill health. Feral cats will be destroyed if they are trapped and handed in to the Shire.

Domestic cats and community cats can still show these attributes but generally after a short period of time, they will settle and be able to be patted, scratched or hand fed. Once they settle, we are generally able to check for a microchip and reunite the cat with its owner. 

Please note, cats that do not have a microchip are advertised on the Shire’s Facebook page in an attempt to locate the owner. If unsuccessful and an owner does not come forward for the cat, they are rehomed.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the information above, or if you would like a cat trap set at your house or property, then please give me a call on 0400 240 787.

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