Pictures and names of injured and missing Stockton Breakwall cats lined Wharf Road yesterday as part of a protest against the Port of Newcastle for its botched cat cull.
The protest organised by the Stray Cats Project and the Animal Justice Party attracted about 200 registered attendees, who condemned last month's shooting of the cats and called on the port not to engage in any further culls.
Chants of 'we will not be silenced, no excuse for violence' and 'justice for the breakwall cats' were shouted by protesters in front of the port's head office.
Stray Cats Project founder Rochelle Wood and Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst spoke at the protest, with Ms Wood saying she was "blown away by the turn out".
She said there were still two cats on the breakwall with broken legs, which carers had been unable to catch, and the remaining cats were now "frightened".
"They used to run out and meet us with their heads and tails held high," she said. "They were happy. Now they're frightened, they're scared. They've seen their family members shot."
Ms Wood said carers had also given up time off work and Christmas to help care for the remaining cats.
She called on the port to engage in a trap-neuter-release (TNR) program to deal with the stray cats situation in a more humane way, with the Stray Cats Project's program having reduced the number of cats on the wall significantly.
Ms Hurst also called for more government support and research of TNR.
"These programs are supported by the RSPCA in the UK to provide a long term solution to the number of homeless cats in an area," Ms Hurst said.
Ms Hurst said there also needed to be stronger legislation and enforcement of desexing and microchipping of companion animals to help reduce the number of ferals and strays.
The Port of Newcastle says it previously sought to humanely remove the cats from the breakwall, which included attempts to capture the strays that were foiled by the theft of cages.
A port spokesperson said they would be led by science in its handling of the stray cats. TNR is not supported in current NSW legislation.
The spokesperson said animal control activity remained suspended pending the outcome of the ongoing investigations.
"We are seeking a path forward to remove all remaining cats from the site," the spokesperson said. "We prioritise public safety and environmental compliance."
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