In the past 200 years Australia has recorded the highest number of mammal species that have suffered a major decline or extinction due to invasive predators. The red fox and feral cat have been the most damaging. Globally, cats are listed as one of four invasive species (along with rodents, dogs and pigs) that threaten the greatest numbers of endangered vertebrates.
It is estimated that every day feral, stray and domestic cats across Australia kill tens of millions of native animals, including 3.2 million mammals, 1.2 million birds and 1.9 million reptiles, 0.25 million frogs and 3 million invertebrates.
In 2008 the Tasmanian Government estimated that there were 150,000 stray and feral cats in Tasmania. To survive each of these will kill hundreds of native animals each year and the vast majority will be carriers of toxoplasmosis.
A feral cat lives, feeds and breeds without any input from humans. They may never see humans during their lives and they are very wary of human contact.
Feral cats in Australia are descended from pet cats whose ancestors were released, lost or escaped from their owners.
The decline of the Tasmanian Devil due to the devil facial tumour disease has led to both an increase in feral cats numbers in Tasmania and the amount of time feral cats are active at night. This further increases the threat to our unique wildlife.
A stray cat is a pet cat that has been lost or wandered from its home, or that has been dumped by its owner. They usually rely on humans for food at least to some extent, even if it is by scavenging around homes and they have at least some tolerance of human presence.
Under some circumstances a stray cat, or more usually its descendants, may become truly feral. Stray cats may of course become pet cats again if they find suitable homes but it is extremely rare for a truly feral cat to ever become a pet.
What to do if you see a feral cat
Please help us to record feral cat sightings so that we can get a better understanding of the distribution and numbers of feral cats.
The best way to do this is to record sightings on the FeralScan App on your smart phone when and where you see them. The App automatically records the location, adds them to a central database and maps the sightings so that everyone can view them.
I have a stray or feral cat problem, can Council come and take care of it?
Unless in one of our priority areas Council cannot trap or collect stray/feral cats or loan traps on an individual basis. Council is however interested to know the location of stray/feral cat populations to assist where feasible and to inform future management.
Information can be left with Council’s Customer Service staff on 6211 8200 and feral cat sightings can be recorded on the FeralCatScan App on your smart phone when and where you see them. The App automatically records the location and maps the sightings for follow up.
Kingborough Council is also working to promote responsible cat ownership which is vital to managing the population of stray and feral cats.
Can I catch a stray cat?
A person is permitted to trap a cat on their private property, as long as any cat that is trapped is either returned to its owner; or taken to a cat management facility; or taken to a nominee of a facility, within 24 hours of being trapped. Traps must be checked at least once every 24-hour period after the trap is first set.
Before setting a trap, a person should first contact a cat management facility to understand the facility’s processes for accepting a cat, operating hours, and any associated fees. You should not take a cat to a cat management facility without contacting the facility first. Under the Animal Welfare Act 1993, a person who sets a trap is responsible for the care and welfare of any animal that is caught in the trap and has a duty to take all reasonable measures to protect the welfare of the animal.
Trapping a cat
The Act also allows for cats to be trapped in prohibited areas, such as National Parks and reserves, on private land that is more than 1 km from a place of residence, on ‘primary production land’, such as farming properties, or on a ‘production premises’, such as aquaculture and abattoir operations. Any cat trapped in these locations can either be returned to its owner; taken to a cat management facility; or humanely destroyed.