Feral cats in Australia: Part 1 – History and Population

YouTube video:

Chris Dickman is a Professor in Terrestrial Ecology at the School of Biological Sciences, Sydney University. He has studied interactions between native and introduced species in the arid regions of Australia for many years. In this video, Chris discusses the history of cats in Australia, how they became a problem and spread into the bush, and their current population.

Feral cats live, hunt and reproduce in the wild. They have the body shape, acute senses and fine coordination perfectly suited for stalking and capturing prey. These traits have allowed feral cats to adapt to some of Australia’s harshest conditions and invade almost all parts of the continent. Cats probably arrived in Australia as pets of European settlers and were later deliberately introduced in an attempt to control rabbits and rodents. Cats now occupy 99% of Australia, including many offshore islands.

Feral cats need large amounts of fresh meat to survive and reproduce. In Australia they mainly eat small native and exotic mammals, birds, lizards and insects. About 80 endangered and threatened species are at risk from feral cat predation in Australia. feral cats also carry diseases which can affect humans and other animals.