Australia’s largest cat desexing program kicked off Thursday morning, with RSPCA South Australia’s veterinary team operating on the first cats booked for a free snip by their owners.
Under the joint initiative between RSPCA South Australia and the City of Onkaparinga, Onkaparinga residents are eligible to have their cats desexed for free by the veterinary team at RSPCA’s Lonsdale animal shelter. The aim is to desex 2000 cats over the next two years.
The landmark initiative to combat cat overpopulation (funded by a $200,000 donation from a single donor and $50,000 from the City of Onkaparinga) aligns with recommendations made in the RSPCA/AWL Cat Management Plan for South Australia released last year. It is part of a three-year partnership agreement between RSPCA South Australia and the council for the management of stray dogs and cats from the Onkaparinga area.
As part of the agreement, RSPCA South Australia will continue to provide dog and cat impounding and re-homing services to the City of Onkaparinga.
With the Spring kitten season officially underway, RSPCA South Australia CEO Paul Stevenson said the organisation is hopeful the mass desexing operation will reduce the usual surge in unwanted litters arriving at its Lonsdale shelter. At the kitten season peak on 13 February last year, RSPCA South Australia was caring for a total of 753 cats and kittens.
“Our Lonsdale shelter staff always brace at this time of year in anticipation of our feline intake starting to spike,” Mr Stevenson said.
“From mid-September right through to the end of May, we have hundreds of cats and kittens in our care and most of them are the consequence of uncontrolled breeding.
“We’re delighted to see the huge response to this program and applaud all those cat owners who have signed up so far.
“Every one of them is helping us to get on top of this major animal welfare issue.”
“It’s fantastic that nearly 300 people have already registered for the program which tackles the root cause of uncontrolled cat reproduction,” City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said.
“This program removes any barriers to people desexing their cats, and helps control the cat population as well as deliver financial, environmental and social benefits for all residents and cat owners.”
“The City of Onkaparinga and the RSPCA are excited to be leading the way for cat management in South Australia, and we’ll continue working together to promote the three most effective measures for cat management – desexing, microchipping and cat containment.”
Apart from the 291 Onkaparinga residents who have so far registered for the program, another 32 people from other council districts have also registered interest. RSPCA South Australia is hoping data collected as part of the program will encourage other local councils to implement similar large-scale cat desexing programs.
For more information on the program, and to register – www.rspcasa.org.au/desexing-program