AMRRIC hosts internship focusing on cat population management

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Former AMRRIC intern Brooke Kennedy assisting on a veterinary program.

Increasingly, remote Indigenous community members are choosing to keep cats as pets. When responsibly managed in appropriate numbers, cats can make lovely pets, however, where there is limited access to humane and effective reproductive control, as well as appropriate containment facilities to prevent wildlife predation, cat populations can have a variety of negative impacts. While AMRRIC has decades of experience delivering effective dog population management programs, cat population management is a relatively new but growing priority for AMRRIC and its partners. AMRRIC has been keen to validate and address this issue for some time, however our small team had not had the internal capacity to be able to do so. So, when we were asked to consider hosting University of New England PhD candidate Brooke Kennedy as an APR.Intern for 5 months, we jumped at the chance! 


Brooke had already worked alongside the AMRRIC team for a number of years during her Honours research and subsequent PhD studies, focusing on animal management on the Tiwi Islands.  These existing relationships, together with the support provided by the University of New England and APR.Intern made Brooke’s transition to an AMRRIC office-based intern smooth sailing. Brooke was guided by AMRRIC’s team throughout her internship, to undertake a review of cat population management published literature, collate and analyse available data on remote community cat populations and assist our team to develop cat-focused educational resources.  


Brooke’s systematic literature review – now published and open access – researched global best practice cat population management techniques, and considered how such techniques could be adapted to suit the unique context in which AMRRIC works. Brooke’s paper confirms that AMRRIC’s existing approach aligns with global best practice, and that cultural considerations and community involvement are always key. 


By collating and analysing quantitative and qualitative cat population data, Brooke confirmed that many remote communities have large cat populations with significant reproductive potential. This data will assist AMRRIC in advocating to a broader audience of stakeholders – particularly those interested in, or impacted by uncontrolled cat populations. We anticipate that this advocacy will lead to new funding sources for sustainable access to humane and effective cat population management, and ultimately improve the health and management of cat populations. This in turn, will assist in improving the health and wellbeing of remote Indigenous communities and their surrounding ecosystems.  


Finally, Brooke also worked with AMRRIC’s Education Officer, developing and tailoring AMRRIC’s education materials, ensuring that remote Indigenous communities have access to reliable and culturally appropriate information to assist them in demonstrating responsible cat ownership behaviours. View AMRRIC’s cat-focused educational resources, including those that Brooke contributed to, here. 


It was AMRRIC’s pleasure to host Brooke during her 5 months internship, and we are thrilled with the outcomes she delivered. Her work has enhanced our knowledge of cat population management and assisted us to ensure we continue to deliver and advocate for best practice companion animal population management programs. A big thank you to Brooke, Brooke’s University of New England based supervisor Dr Wendy Brown, and APR.Intern for their respective roles in ensuring the success of this internship. 


AMRRIC hopes to continue to offer companion animal health and management internships. If you are a university student interested in undertaking an internship with AMRRIC, please get in touch. 

Frances Grant
Author: Frances Grant