Blue Mountains City Council considers cat bib trial to protect wildlife

Everyone's heard of puss in boots, but what about puss in bibs?

This may be the reality for Mountain moggies after an extensive investigation by council into how to stop cats killing native birds and wildlife.

Cat bibs, which are made from material like a wetsuit, act as a barrier between the cat and its prey. They mess with the cat's hunting co-ordination and timing and also appear to be a visual deterrent for wildlife.

Fashion plate: Puss in bib may be the must-have look for Mountains moggies under council plans to reduce the incidence of cats killing native birds and wildlife.

Fashion plate: Puss in bib may be the must-have look for Mountains moggies under council plans to reduce the incidence of cats killing native birds and wildlife.

A 2007 Murdoch University study found they stop 81 per cent of cats catching birds, 45 per cent from catching mammals and 33 per cent of cats from catching reptiles.

The bibs have been recently tested with some success in the Eurobodalla Shire on the NSW south coast.

Blue Mountains council is now considering a trial, giving free CatBibs to owners of microchipped and registered cats. Bulk buying could bring the cost down to $12 a bib.

Reduces cat kill rates.

Reduces cat kill rates.

Other possibiities being considered are containment - keeping a cat inside the owner's property or in a purpose-built enclosure outside - and night-time curfews.

Council has also been one of 10 selected to join the RSPCA 'keeping cats safe at home' project. The project is funded by the NSW Environmental Trust and will provide up to $90,000 in incentives, such as free or cheaper desexing, enclosures or modified fencing and bibs.

The money may also be spent on giving owners "behaviour and enrichment advice" for keeping their cats happy at home.

The council report noted that a free trial of CatBibs would be a "feasible and meritorious component" of a broader program and emphasised there must be extensive consultation with cat owners before any measures are introduced.

Greens Cr Brent Hoare, who raised the idea with council last year, said: "It is wonderful to see council recognising that CatBibs could have some role to play in helping to reduce the impact of domestic cats on native wildlife.

Protecting wildlife: Eurobodalla Council's natural resources officer Courtney Fink-Downes said the cat bib program was a great success.

Protecting wildlife: Eurobodalla Council's natural resources officer Courtney Fink-Downes said the cat bib program was a great success.

"It is even better to see that so much more is being proposed by council through their adoption of a many sided approach to dealing with the complexity of the problems caused by domestic cats in our city.

"I particularly welcome the proposed partnership with the ... RSPCA project. The extra resources this program will bring to our community to work in partnership with cat owners to support subsidised and practical approaches that will make a real difference to protecting both our beloved pets and our native animals are significant changes," Cr Hoare said.

"This is a real win-win solution that will both keep our cats safer and greatly reduce the predatory impacts of cats on our precious native wildlife."