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Invasive Species Council
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OUR WORK

Affectionate, playful, mischievous, relentless, prowling, predator. Cat-lover or not, none of us can escape the devastating impacts they are having on Australia’s wildlife. Cats inhabit almost all of Australia and continue to drive many native species toward extinction.

Our Work  |  Cats in Australia

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Cats in Australia

Cats have caused more environmental damage in Australia than any other continent in the world.

Cats are believed to have first arrived in Australia in 1788 on the First Fleet. Within 70 years, they had covered the continent and are now spread across more than 99% of Australia’s land area

Sadly, Australian wildlife, like endangered numbats and night parrots, have proven particularly susceptible to feral cats and roaming pet cats. Cats are the perfect hunter, being patient, silent and adaptable. Not only are so many of our native animals the perfect-sized prey for cats, they’re also at a big disadvantage since they aren’t used to being hunted by something like a cat.

Every Year Cats in Australia Kill ...

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mammals

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birds

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reptiles

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frogs

What Can Be Done?

Australia needs stronger laws, policies and programs to protect our wildlife from cats. 

We have worked with several of Australia’s leading researchers to identify ways to better protect threatened species from feral cats and foxes by undertaking island eradications, providing more control tools and removing legal barriers for humane feral cat removal efforts.

We are also working to ensure that pet cats are kept safe at home, and that there is support through local, state and federal government for effective cat containment.

How Does Your State or Territory Rate?

We want to ensure every state allows the full suite of feral cat control tools, so that land managers have the best chance of driving down feral cat numbers. Roaming pet cats are also diminishing local populations of birds, small mammals and reptiles. We need to ensure Australia’s 4.9 million pet cats are kept safe at home and not allowed to roam. 

To win government action, we need to show governments pet cat containment and effective action on feral cats is popular! Show your support for action on cats by taking the pledge.

Cats have already driven 27 native animals to extinction since colonisation and now threaten at least 124 more native species at risk of extinction.

To save the surviving bilbies, numbats, night parrots, and all of the other native animals we love in this country, we must act urgently. We must ensure governments strengthen their efforts to protect wildlife from cats and we must build more support across Australia. 

Pledge support for stronger action on roaming pet cats and feral cats across Australia

To protect native wildlife & prevent further cat-driven extinctions in Australia, we need mandatory microchipping and desexing for all cats by 4 months of age, 24/7 pet cat containment, assistance for Australian pet cat owners, increased investment in and tools for feral cat management, continuation of the feral cat coordinator and implementation of a new national cat threat abatement plan, and increased uptake of new control tools such as Felixer grooming traps.

Learn More About the Impacts of Feral Cats and Roaming Pet Cats

Feral cats have been an environmental disaster for Australian wildlife. But just how bad has their impact been and what can be done to stop feral cats driving even more native animals into extinction?

There are more than 4.9 million pet cats in Australia. With this number growing in recent years, it is important to consider how we best keep pet cats, and our native species, healthy and safe.

The Dark Side of Cats in Australia

Free-roaming cats, both feral and pet, are highly efficient predators. On top of the over 30 native species that cats helped push into extinction since colonisation, including the pig-footed bandicoot and the Macquarie Island parakeet, they now imperil at least another 123 nationally threatened species.

In fact, every day matters. On average, cats kill 2.92 million mammals1.67 million reptiles1.09 million birds0.26 million frogs and 2.97 million invertebrates every 24 hours.

The stats are scary, and cats will continue to drive species toward extinction unless we intervene. 

‘Now, a new wave of mammal extinctions is looming across northern Australia, as intense fires and overgrazing by feral cattle, pigs and buffaloes remove shelter and make it easier for feral cats to hunt. … Often travelling long distances (up to 30km), cats target recently burnt areas for intensive hunting. An influx of cats can decimate the survivors of fire.’

– Andy Sheppard (CSIRO) & Andreas Glanznig (CISS)

How Many Cats Are in Australia?

At any given point in time, there are between 7.0 – 11.2 million cats spread across 99.9% of the continent:

  • 1.4 – 5.6 million feral cats in the bush depending on rainfall conditions 
  • 0.7 million feral cats in urban areas 
  • 4.9 million pet cats
Cats can increase their population sizes faster than their native prey. That means, following periods of high rainfall, the country’s feral cat population can quadruple. 
Dry Conditions (1.4 million feral cats in the bush) Wet Conditions (5.6 million feral cats in the bush)

The density of feral cats in the Australian bush during average dry conditions (slide the slider to the right) and wet conditions (slide the slider to the left). Map published in Legge et al. 2017.

Fact Sheet: The impacts of cats on Australian wildlife

A fact sheet developed by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

Dear Project Team,

[YOUR PERSONALISED MESSAGE WILL APPEAR HERE.] 

I support the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow our incredible National Parks staff to use aerial shooting as one method to rapidly reduce feral horse numbers. I want to see feral horse numbers urgently reduced in order to save the national park and our native wildlife that live there.

The current approach is not solving the problem. Feral horse numbers have rapidly increased in Kosciuszko National Park to around 18,000, a 30% jump in just the past 2 years. With the population so high, thousands of feral horses need to be removed annually to reduce numbers and stop our National Park becoming a horse paddock. Aerial shooting, undertaken humanely and safely by professionals using standard protocols, is the only way this can happen.

The government’s own management plan for feral horses states that ‘if undertaken in accordance with best practice, aerial shooting can have the lowest negative animal welfare impacts of all lethal control methods’.

This humane and effective practice is already used across Australia to manage hundreds of thousands of feral animals like horses, deer, pigs, and goats.

Trapping and rehoming of feral horses has been used in Kosciuszko National Park for well over a decade but has consistently failed to reduce the population, has delayed meaningful action and is expensive. There are too many feral horses in the Alps and not enough demand for rehoming for it to be relied upon for the reduction of the population.

Fertility control as a management tool is only effective for a small, geographically isolated, and accessible population of feral horses where the management outcome sought is to maintain the population at its current size. It is not a viable option to reduce the large and growing feral horse population in the vast and rugged terrain of Kosciuszko National Park.

Feral horses are trashing and trampling our sensitive alpine ecosystems and streams, causing the decline and extinction of native animals. The federal government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has stated that feral horses ‘may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction’ for 12 alpine species.

I recognise the sad reality that urgent and humane measures are necessary to urgently remove the horses or they will destroy the Snowies and the native wildlife that call the mountains home. I support a healthy national park where native species like the Corroboree Frog and Mountain Pygmy Possum can thrive.

Kind regards,
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your postcode]


Dear Project Team,

[YOUR PERSONALISED MESSAGE WILL APPEAR HERE.] 

I support the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow our incredible National Parks staff to use aerial shooting as one method to rapidly reduce feral horse numbers. I want to see feral horse numbers urgently reduced in order to save the national park and our native wildlife that live there.

The current approach is not solving the problem. Feral horse numbers have rapidly increased in Kosciuszko National Park to around 18,000, a 30% jump in just the past 2 years. With the population so high, thousands of feral horses need to be removed annually to reduce numbers and stop our National Park becoming a horse paddock. Aerial shooting, undertaken humanely and safely by professionals using standard protocols, is the only way this can happen.

The government’s own management plan for feral horses states that ‘if undertaken in accordance with best practice, aerial shooting can have the lowest negative animal welfare impacts of all lethal control methods’.

This humane and effective practice is already used across Australia to manage hundreds of thousands of feral animals like horses, deer, pigs, and goats.

Trapping and rehoming of feral horses has been used in Kosciuszko National Park for well over a decade but has consistently failed to reduce the population, has delayed meaningful action and is expensive. There are too many feral horses in the Alps and not enough demand for rehoming for it to be relied upon for the reduction of the population.

Fertility control as a management tool is only effective for a small, geographically isolated, and accessible population of feral horses where the management outcome sought is to maintain the population at its current size. It is not a viable option to reduce the large and growing feral horse population in the vast and rugged terrain of Kosciuszko National Park.

Feral horses are trashing and trampling our sensitive alpine ecosystems and streams, causing the decline and extinction of native animals. The federal government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has stated that feral horses ‘may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction’ for 12 alpine species.

I recognise the sad reality that urgent and humane measures are necessary to urgently remove the horses or they will destroy the Snowies and the native wildlife that call the mountains home. I support a healthy national park where native species like the Corroboree Frog and Mountain Pygmy Possum can thrive.

Kind regards,
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your postcode]