IRRESPONSIBLE pet owners are contributing to a serious feral cat problem in Cootamundra, according to Cooper St Veterinary Hospital vet nurse Karlie Johnston.
“Coota has got a ridiculously high amount of feral cats that just keep breeding and breeding,” Ms Johnston said.
“It’s a vicious cycle.”
Feral cats pose a serious threat to native wildlife, including birds, lizards, frogs and even possums.
They spread feline AIDS, cat flu and parasites, and can maim or seriously injure domestic animals in fights.
Many strays in the area are fed by well-meaning home-owners, but no-one takes responsibility for de-sexing the animals.
Ms Johnston said it is not unusual for owners to leave cats behind when moving homes, contributing to the feral cat problem.
Cootamundra Shire Council compliance officer Glen McAtear says council does not have much authority to act when it comes to controlling feral cats.
Unlike dogs, there are no laws preventing cats roaming in the day or at night unless they are declared “nuisance cats”.
Home owners are limited to four dogs and four cats over the age of six months, and fines can be issued if people do no apply for an exemption.
Mr McAtear also warns companion animals must be micro-chipped at eight weeks of age, and it is illegal to sell or even give away pets that are not micro-chipped.
Cooper St Vet Hospital currently has 12 kittens in need of a home, some of which were left abandoned by irresponsible pet owners.
Experts recommend de-sexing cats from five months of age as they can reach sexual maturity not long afterwards.
Ms Johnston says there is a “100 per cent chance” that any sexually mature female cat allowed outside will get pregnant. Male cats can sense when a female is in cycle and will travel up to 10 kilometres to breed.