Surprise twist in furore over ‘irresponsible’ cat trap found in Aussie suburb

Locals say there is more to the image than what meets the eye.

A photo of a pet cat caught in a trap set up on a suburban Sydney path has sparked a huge wave of backlash within the community — but locals say not everything is as is seems.

The image of the grey and white feline sitting in the cage placed under a tree in the Sutherland Shire was captured by a passerby and posted on social media earlier this week in an attempt to find its owner.

“Hey guys, I noticed this cat caught in the Kirrawee area. Don’t know if [it’s] a stray or not?” the woman posted online. “Worried as I don’t know how long it has been trapped. If you know about this trap please check.”

The grey and white house cat caught in the trap.
The image of the grey and white house cat caught in the trap in the Sutherland Shire has sparked outrage within the community. Source: Facebook

The image was quickly reposted on numerous other local Facebook pages, igniting outrage over the “extremely irresponsible” trap act. “If it was done properly, it would never have been done during the day, the trap would have been surprised and the car would have a blanket over it to reduce stress,” one person argued.

However, the image doesn’t capture the full story, an anonymous Sutherland Shire resident told Yahoo News Australia.

Search for dumped kitten leads to 'last resort'

The trap was the result of an extensive search for a kitten that was dumped in a reserve in the area. A woman walking by witnessed a man abandoning the cat and tried to catch it, but it escaped her.

She then put out an alert on Facebook, and a group of volunteers with wildlife experience was formed. The team searched for days — going for long walks, knocking on neighbours’ doors and posting flyers, the anonymous source told Yahoo. After six days, the volunteers consulted with local vets and the pound who suggested they set up a trap and monitor it closely.

A vet lent one trap to the group and they hired a second, placing both in shaded areas with food and water. They were advised not to place a blanket over the traps — which were monitored from 5am to 12pm — as it could prevent it from working, the local said, insisting the cages were left no longer than an hour or two at a time during the day.

The source said the move was a last-ditch effort to catch the kitten. The cat that ended up getting caught in the trap was a local pet and appeared to be incredibly unbothered after being released, they added. Sadly, the kitten still hasn’t been located, and the backlash from the community shocked some of the volunteers. They are still on the hunt for the animal but are losing hope.

Aerial drone view of homes and streets above Bangor in the Sutherland Shire, south Sydney, NSW Australia showing Bangor Bypass in the background.
The Sutherland Shire Council’s animal shelter has seen in influx in animals - as has every other Sydney pound. Source: Getty

Council's animal shelter under 'increased strain'

The Sutherland Shire Council’s animal shelter is just one of the many pounds across the city and country openly struggling with an influx of animals — many of which are sitting at capacity. RSPCA NSW told Yahoo the cost-of-living crisis is one of the top reasons animals are being surrendered to shelters, as well as moving house or having too many animals to manage. The adoption rate has also declined by 30 per cent.

A Sutherland Shire Council spokesperson told Yahoo the “recent increase in the number of animals surrendered to its Taren Point animal shelter is placing increased strain on facilities”. “This comes in addition to anecdotal reports of an increased number of animals being abandoned locally over the holiday period, many of which are in turn brought to our shelter by members of the public,” the spokesperson said, adding it is “an offence to abandon an animal”.

The spokesperson added that because “shelters and animal rescue organisations across metropolitan Sydney operating near or at capacity, there is currently limited ability to temporarily ease the strain on facilities” by transferring animals to other shelters in the region.

“Staff and volunteers will often take cats home from work where they are able, and reach out at work with a network of foster carers to care for cats outside of the shelter when this facility is forced to operate beyond capacity,” the spokesperson said.

While running in the 2022 election, NSW Premier Chris Minns pledged $9 million to Sydney Dogs and Cats Home — which was evicted from its site to make room for a new development — to go toward another facility should Labor win. The government said at the time it had already provided the organisation with a land site in Kurnell and a 50-year peppercorn rent arrangement for the new facility, The Daily Telegraph reported. Yahoo has contacted NSW Labor for comment.

If you find a stray animal, you should contact your local council. If there are animal welfare concerns, you can contact RSPCA NSW on 1300 CRUELTY to investigate or NSW Police for assistance.

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