Cats are not native to Australia. They were introduced probably around the time of first European settlement. During the 19th century, thousands of cats were released in the gold fields to control mice. Cats were also popular with settlers to keep down the number of rabbits and native rats.
Many were released - or escaped - into the bush, where they were able to fend for themselves. These cats did not depend on humans for food or shelter and in effect became wild - or 'feral'. They spread rapidly across most of the continent. It is estimated that there could be 400,000 feral cats in NSW and around 12 million across Australia.
Background information on feral cats
Find out where they live, how far they roam, how often they breed, and other details.
The threat of feral cats
The Scientific Committee has declared feral cats to be a 'key threatening process' because of their impact on native animals in NSW. Find out more.
Reducing the threat
Find out about NPWS threat abatement planning for feral cats.
Keeping cats as pets
Pet cats can harm native wildlife, but there are a few simple things you can do to help make sure they don't.
Page last updated: 03 November 2011