Domestic cat welfare is in the spotlight this week, with the RSPCA’s 2021 Animal Welfare Seminar, FELINE FUTURES, kicking off on Thursday. Held online over two afternoons (Thursday 18 and Friday 19 February), FELINE FUTURES will bring together government, industry, academia, animal welfare organisations, as well as the wider community, to share knowledge and experience about domestic cat management. RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Zito said the online seminar was a chance to tackle some of the big issues around our relationship with our feline friends. “Domestic cat management is a complex and persistent challenge with a high degree of community interest,” said Dr Zito. “This seminar will bring together a range of stakeholders to discuss how we can achieve better outcomes – including the role of shelters, strategies for rehoming cats in need of homes, safeguarding feline welfare, protecting wildlife and public health, community education, and strategies for encouraging desexing, microchipping, containment and registration. “It’s important to recognise that when we talk about domestic cats, this includes not just owned cats, but also semi-owned cats (who might be fed or cared for by people who don’t consider that they own them) and unowned domestic cats who still have some interactions with humans and indirectly depend on them. “Any cat management strategies have to take into account all these different types of human-cat relationships.” The seminar builds on the RSPCA’s 2018 report, Identifying Best Practice Domestic Cat Management in Australia, which was produced following stakeholder consultation. The seminar’s theme is particularly topical at the moment with the release earlier this month of the House of Representatives Environment Committee’s inquiry report which was influenced by the RSPCA’s report. The year’s RSPCA Animal Welfare seminar is being held online for the first time due to the impact of COVID-19, with a range of speakers from government, academia and the not-for-profit sector – including two speakers from the University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, who are internationally recognised for their extensive experience in domestic cat management. “We’re thrilled to have such great speakers join us for this event, including internationally.” said Dr Zito. “Registration is still open and we encourage anyone with an interest in domestic cat welfare to join us.” More information about the seminar is available here.