Threats/Control Methods - Regional
No threats. Many urban areas conduct cat control programs to prevent cats becoming a pest to residents and preying on wildlife. In the new suburbs of north Canberra, all cat owners must keep their pets inside enclosures to protect the fragile native woodland species from predation.
Threats/Control Methods - Local
No threats. Monitoring projects are currently being undertaken by Environment ACT in nature reserves to determine the impact of cat predation on native species. Until 2004, feral cats trapped on the ANU campus were humanly gassed to control their population numbers.
Studies show that 75% of all domestic cats hunt. Make sure your cat wears a bell - bells may help to warn birds that a cat is nearby and reduce their chance of falling prey.
Confining your cat to the home from dusk to dawn will help protect native birds. Nighttime confinement (also known as cat curfews) will not, however, provide protection for diurnal prey like reptiles and birds. Cats can also be kept in outdoor enclosures with access to indoors. Good cat enclosures keep cats entertained while protecting native wildlife, day and night.
Confining your cat will also protect them from the injuries that result from car accidents and attacks by dogs or other cats. Theft, human mistreatment and diseases including feline AIDS and toxoplasmosis, (a parasite that can cause blindness, respiratory failure, cysts, digestive problems, abortion and in severe cases sudden death) is also far more common in free roaming cats.
Most cats need to be de-sexed, unless they are owned specially for breeding purposes. In the ACT, all cats must be de-sexed at 6 months of age unless owners have a permit to breed.
Don't put meat scraps in your compost, as meat scraps will encourage cats to your backyard and provide a ready food resource for local stray and feral populations as well as neighbourhood cats.
Don't feed stray cats or kittens unless you plan to adopt them. Feeding stray cats will not discourage them from hunting; it will only help them increase in number. Stray cats can also carry diseases that can harm pet cats. Stray or unwanted cats should be taken to the RSPCA where they can be cared for appropriately.
House Cat, Domestic Cat, Feral Cat
Cats are four-legged, sharp-toothed creatures that can vary significantly in appearance. Hair colour, pattern and length and cat size can take different forms depending on breed with some breeds even being hairless. They can weigh up to 5kg, although they usually range between 1.5-3kg.
Cats are generally divided into three groups: domestic (owned), stray (unowned but in contact with human settlements) and feral (unowned with little or no contact with humans and typically hostile to human interaction). Feral cats are typically larger than domestic or stray cats. Feral cats may have longer whiskers and fangs than domestic or stray cats.
Cats are widespread across most areas of
Country of Origin
Cats were most likely introduced into
The cat was identified using many techniques during the day and night, including searches, scats, sandplots and calls.
Conservation (Pet/Pest) Status - National
Associated vegetation community
This species has adapted to a variety of habitat types, including agricultural areas, coastland, disturbed areas, forests, rangelands, grasslands, riparian zones, shrublands, urban areas and wetlands. Domestic cats are found in urban areas and urban fringes, while feral cats in this region prefer grasslands, due to their high abundance of rabbits.
An extremely adaptable species, the domestic cat can live in a wide range of habitats so long as food is available.
Cats can breed twice a year, with litters ranging from 2 to 10 kittens. The gestation period for cats is 65 days. Kittens suckle from the mother until weaning at around 35-40 days. Female cats can have their first litter from around 9 months of age. Feral cats can breed in any season.
Free roaming cats are active both during the day and night and do not return to the same shelters. The weight of the cat has an impact on their home range, as larger cats will occupy a larger territory. They are solitary creatures, although sometimes their territories will overlap. Due to the dangerous hunting and roaming nature of cats, the average life expectancy of a free roaming domestic cat is less than three years, while cats confined to the home have a life expectancy between 12 and 15 years.
Cats will eat a large range of small mammals including mice, rats, Brushtail Possums (Trichosurus vulpecular ), Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus ), rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus ) and even wallabies. They also commonly eat birds, insects, lizards, snakes, frogs and fish.
Cats are extremely effective predators and can have a significant impact on native wildlife. In the ACT, woodland birds are at particular risk as their populations are already threatened due to habitat loss and degradation from land clearing, urbanisation, pollution and overgrazing. Woodland birds are also particularly susceptible to cat predation, as many species feed or nest on the ground.
European Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes ), Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), Wedge-tailed eagles (Aquila audax) and other cats will attack and kill this species.
References - (reader suitability of references, P=Primary teachers, S=Secondary students, T=Tertiary students and researchers)
Books:Barratt, D. 1997. Predation by House Cats, Felis catus (L.). Canberra, Australia. I. Prey Composition and Preference, Applied Ecology Research Group, University of Canberra, Australia. T
Stewart, R. 1997. EnviroCat: A new approach to caring for your cat & protecting wildlife. Hyland Publishing House. Melbourne. P, S, T
Online Publications:Department of Environment and Heritage. 2004. The feral cat (Felis catus). Australian Government. Canberra. [online]. Available at:http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/cat/index.html S, T
Dickman. 1996. Overview of the impacts of feral cats on Australian native fauna. Australian Nature Conservation Agency (now Environment Australia). Commonwealth Government Printer. Canberra. [online]. Available at:http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/cat-impacts/domestic-stray.html, S, T
Environment ACT. Charter for Responsible Cat Ownership. [online]. Available at: http://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/14778/catcharterword.doc S, T
Invasive Species Specialist Group. 2006. The Global Invasive Species Database. [online]. Available at: http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=24&fr=1&sts= P, S, T
Tidemann, C., Roscoe, T. and Mitchell, B. 2006. Mammals of the Lower Sullivans Creek Catchment, Canberra ACT. Prepared for the Life in the Suburbs project using data from the Lower Sullivans Creek Catchment Ecological Survey (LSCCES). Australian National University. Canberra. [online]. Available at: http://www.lifeinthesuburbs.com.au/category.php?id=65 S, T
Molsher, R. Dickman, C. Newsome, A. and M©ller, W. 2005. Home ranges of feral cats (Felis catus) in central-western New South Wales, Australia. Wildlife research Management and Conservation. CSIRO Publishing. [online]. Available at: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR04093.htm T