The number of native animals killed by pet cats nationally has risen 34 per cent since the pandemic pet boom.

Research by the Biodiversity Council, Invasive Species Council, and Birdlife Australia highlighted the need for owners to be more responsible in keeping pet cats, with evidence suggesting 71 per cent of cat owners allow their pets to freely roam.

Professor Sarah Legge, Charles Darwin University ecologist and spokesperson for the Biodiversity Council said, said their research found that 323 million native animals are dying in Australia each year because cat owners are allowing their pets to freely roam – up from 241 million in 2020.

“The jump in wildlife kills reflects the pandemic pet boom that saw pet cat numbers reach 5.3 million and is an alarm bell for governments to enact responsible pet ownership laws, including 24/7 cat curfews.”

Candice Bartlett, Conservation Officer at the Invasive Species Council, said there is an archaic situation in New South Wales and Western Australia where local governments cannot implement basic cat curfew laws due to barriers in the state legislation.

“This is a stark contrast to the ACT which requires residents to contain their cats, or Victoria where nearly 50 per cent of councils have introduced cat containment laws.

“The NSW Government could save 66 million native animals every year in the Greater Sydney area alone by legislating 24/7 cat curfews and boosting funding for responsible pet ownership initiatives like subsidised desexing and a state-wide education campaign.”

Holly Parsons, Birdlife Australia’s urban bird program manager, said our urban spaces are home to 46 per cent of Australia’s threatened animals so we have a responsibility to ensure pets aren’t allowed to freely roam in these areas.

“Even when cats seem to be ‘playing’ with wildlife, they can be causing injury and stress to other animals. It’s not the cats’ fault. When they have the opportunity to hunt, they will act on instinct.”

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