CAT owners on the Mornington Peninsula are being reminded that their pets must always be kept on their properties.
Although there is a 24-hour cat curfew set by Mornington Peninsula Shire many owners do not restrain their pets.
Like dogs, cats are not allowed to wander unchecked because they pose a real threat to native animals and birds.
“High numbers of cats [are] roaming around … doing massive damage to our wildlife, members,” according to members of Mornington Environmental Association.
“Cats are catching lizards, birds and other creatures along Tanti Creek and along the Mornington foreshore, as well as in private gardens,” president Margaret Howden said.
She said the MEA auspices five friends’ groups that remove weeds and plant native grasses, trees, shrubs and groundcovers to provide habitat for birds, lizards and insects.
“It is heartbreaking to see cats predating the area we are attempting to restore,” Ms Howden said.
“I don’t think that people realise that if a cat walks through the area many birds will not come back near the place. Some of our little birds nest in the undergrowth, making them very vulnerable to cats.”
Ms Howden said some cat owners appeared to mistakenly believe that cats are allowed out during the day.
“They are not,” she said. “We have a 24-hour curfew on the peninsula. Cats do enormous damage to our environment during daylight hours.”
The Mornington Peninsula Shire website advises that under the 24-hour curfew cats must be contained to their owner’s property at all times.
The site lists’ options for dealing with a wandering or trespassing cat when it enters their property. They must first establish whether the cat has an owner or if it is a stray or ownerless cat.
They should watch the cat to find out where it lives or ask neighbours to help identify where it comes from.
They can then approach the cat’s owner and explain the problem or download the “Dear Neighbour” letter found on page 5 of the Wandering Cat booklet and put it into their letter box.
If these options fail residents can call the environment protection unit on 5950 1050 to arrange for a shire officer to assist in setting a non-lethal cat trap.