MOST cats impounded across the south-west last financial year ended on death row.
Almost all the cats impounded by Corangamite Shire and Moyne Shire councils lost their nine lives.
In Corangamite, which has 997 registered felines, 50 cats were impounded, of which four were reunited with their owners, two rehomed and 44 euthanised — as were 114 of the 200 cats impounded by Moyne council.
Moyne has 571 felines on its registration database.
In Warrnambool 121 cats were put down, 221 rehomed and 24 returned to their owners. There are 1988 cats registered in Warrnambool.
While the councils were unable to say if feral cats were on the increase across the region, they did emphasise the importance of educating the community about reducing the problem.
Corangamite spokesman Ian Gibb said the number of registered cats in the shire had remained consistent in the 2012-13 financial year.
He said unwanted cats had a major impact on the region’s wildlife.
“Clearly damage to wildlife is an issue,” Mr Gibb said. “Particularly fauna — small birds and small marsupials.’’
Mr Gibb said it was hard to determine the number of feral cats in the shire.
“Cats are very mobile ... it’s hard to go to a property and find a cat and conclusively prove that’s where it lives.
“They’re harder to pin down than dogs. Our approach in terms of trying to manage domestic animals is really to promote responsible pet ownership and that includes providing education material around responsible cat ownership including containment of cats particularly at night.
“We also provide a service where if we get complaints on wandering cats and so forth we do have the availability of traps to hire out ...’’
Warrnambool City Council health and local laws manager Ian Fitzgibbon said the council did not have a specific feral cat eradication program but it did trap cats.
“Anecdotally you hear that feral cats are becoming an increasing problem,” he said.
“A lot of our efforts have gone into fox control around the penguin colony where we know foxes are having a major impact on wildlife.
“The environment team have set cages in areas like Levys Point coastal reserve which has been a problem area where we know people often go and dump waste ...and you see feral cats in that area.
“Every landholder has a responsibility to control pest animals. Cats and foxes and so on are just some of those pest animals that require control.
“People can come and rent the cages to help control any cat issues they are having on their properties.’’
A Moyne Shire Council spokesman said the shire did not have a feral cat program but landholders had a key role in reducing the feral cat population.
The south-west’s trapped and abandoned cats are sent to the RSPCA for rehoming or euthanasia.