Predation by feral cats - key threatening process listing

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list Predation by the Feral Cat Felis catus (Linnaeus, 1758) as a KEY THREATENING PROCESS on Schedule 3 of the Act. Listing of Key Threatening Processes is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. The Cat Felis catus (Linnaeus, 1758) is a common but elusive predator that occurs throughout Australia and on many offshore islands. It was introduced to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788, but may have arrived prior to this on Indonesian trading vessels or European ships of exploration. Cats occur in virtually all terrestrial habitats in Australia, and the main determinants of local population size appear to be the availability of food and shelters.

2. Cats may be categorised as domestic, stray or feral. Domestic cats are pet or house cats living with people; their ecological requirements are intentionally provided by humans. Stray cats rely only partly on humans for provision of their ecological requirements, and include animals in urban fringe situations, dumped animals, and cats kept on farms for rodent control. Feral cats are free-living; they have minimal or no reliance on humans for their ecological requirements, and survive and reproduce in self-perpetuating populations. Individual cats can shift between categories in their lifetimes. This determination concerns only Feral Cats.

3. The Feral Cat is carnivorous and capable of killing vertebrates up to 2-3kg. Preference is shown for mammals weighing less that 220g. and birds less than 200g. but reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are also eaten. Carrion and other scavenged material is taken if live prey is not available.

4. Predation by Feral Cats has been implicated in the extinction and decline of many species of mammals and birds on islands around Australia and in other parts of the world, and in the early extinction of up to seven species of small mammals on the Australian mainland.

5. In New South Wales, predation by Feral Cats has been linked to the disappearance by 1857, of 13 species of mammals and 4 species of birds from the Western Division. Current impacts on native species are most likely in modified, fragmented environments and where alternative prey such as Rabbits or House Mice fluctuate in abundance.

6. Based on a rank-scoring system that predicts the susceptibility of native vertebrate species to predation from Feral Cats (Dickman 1996), several Endangered and Vulnerable species in New South Wales are currently threatened, including the Hastings River Mouse Pseudomys oralis, Sandy Inland Mouse Pseudomys hermannsburgensis, Pilliga Mouse Pseudomys pilligaensis, Bolam's Mouse Pseudomys bolami, Forrest's Mouse Leggadina forresti, Mountain Pygmy-possum Burramys parvus, Little Tern Sterna albifrons, Grey Grasswren Amytornis barbatus, Striated Grasswren Amytornis striatus and the lizard Aprasia aurita. Larger species such as Southern Brown Bandicoots Isoodon obesulus and Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies Petrogale penicillata may also be at risk locally or when other prey is scarce.

7. Many other native species are potentially at risk of becoming threatened as a result of Cat predation. Small mammals such as rodents, dasyurids, burramyids and ground-nesting birds are at particular risk.

In view of 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 above, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Predation by the Feral Cat adversely affects more than two threatened species and could cause species that are not threatened to become threatened, and is therefore eligible for listing as a Key Threatening Process under the Threatened Species Conservation Act.


Dickman, C.R. (1996) Overview of the impacts of Feral Cats on Australian native fauna - Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra.

Proposed Gazettal date: 24/3/00
Exhibition period: 24/3/00 - 28/4/00