Australia is killing all their feral cats and now they have a mouse plague

It is said that Australia’s out-of-control mouse plague could last for up to 2 years unless the government takes urgent action in giving farmers free poison which is an anticoagulant. The mice die of internal bleeding. The trouble is that the poison is dangerous to other wildlife. Trying to kill a specific animal with poison is very problematic because how do you direct that poison to that animal?

Mouse plague of Australia

Mouse plague of Australia 2021. Photo: NSW Farmers Facebook page.


For me, an animal advocate, this monumental mouse plague may in part be due to the mass slaughter of feral cats in Australia. This has been going on for a very long time. It is the objective of the authorities to kill all feral cats and they do not mind how they do it. Numerous stories of come out from Australian’s news media about clever devices and outrageous methods to kill feral cats which include throwing frozen poison-baited sausages out of helicopters! It reminds me of Apocalypse Now!

But I have always suspected that when you kill a top predator such as the feral cat which is part of the ecosystem in Australia you are liable to create other problems down the food chain. It has happened before. I don’t know whether the ongoing slaughter of feral cats in Australia has had a bearing on this plague of mice but it might have and in any case the presence of feral cats, or barn cats on farms would certainly help to get rid of them.

You only have to think of the original reason why domestic cats exist: the domestication of the wildcat in the Middle East. Ten thousand years ago the farmers of the region that is now Syria made friends with the wildcat to get rid of the mice because they were destroying grain stores. It was a mutual arrangement. Why doesn’t the Australian government employ semi-feral or community cats or even domestic cats to help control the mice population on farms?

It is far more eco-friendly to deal with large populations of mice that way than to chuck poison everywhere. It appears that the Australian government is reluctant to provide rebates to cover 50% of the cost of zinc phosphide bait or provide free baits for farmers because of the wider impact such as the possible effect on farm dogs, piggeries and other animals including wild animals. I suppose the farmers don’t care about these animals.

The New South Wales government has acquired 5000 litres of the super deadly rodent poison bromadiolone which is enough to treat 95 tonnes of grain. They are even offering to provide it free but are awaiting federal approval.

The farmers have been battling this plague for eight months while waiting for state government assistance and offers of practical support to the farming community. Nobody has put forward the possibility that the old-fashioned barn cat may be the best solution. Do Australians hate cats so much? Have they forgotten how the domestic cat came about in the first place? Surely, this is a moment to try out the barn cat and also, while they are at it, to reappraise their inhumane and obsessive desire to slaughter all feral cats on the continent.


Here is an example of a working cat who holds the world record in terms of mousing. Her name is Towser. She lived between 1963-1987. She holds the record for the champion mouser of all time. She was a female tortoiseshell (nearly all tortoiseshells are female as you know) owned by Glenturret Distillery near Crieff, Tayside, Scotland. She is reported to have killed an average of three mice a day, every day of her adult life, giving an estimated lifetime total of 28,899. The point that I am making is that a group of barn cats at a farm that is overrun with mice would be able to substantially control the mice infestation in my view. In addition to the actual killing of mice the deterrent factor is a major benefit of their presence.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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14 Responses

  1. ForePaws says:

    First cats may be part of the current ecosystem but not the natural ecosystem of Australian.

    Ferial cats are an invasive species that are wiping out the native wildlife; therefore, the nonnative ferial cats could be the cause of the mouse plague.

    Ferial cat also spread Toxoplasmosis like a wildfire in mouse populations and mice without fear and lowered inhabitation breed like crazy, and the ferial cats that will do not eat them until they die of Toxoplasmosis; therefore, again another possible cause to mouse plague.

    Ferial cats are also the Komodo Dragons of domesticated animals their scratches and bites send countless people to the hospital and cemetery, not another cause for the mouse plague but an additional reason to eliminate the ferial cats.

    Therefor someone with no knowledge on invasive species should not be writing articles on situation that they are obviously clueless about.

    • I think that it is you who has a knowledge deficit on this topic.

    • tamara says:

      Bollocks! Not one thing you spout is true Forepaws. Your post is the most ignorant thing I have ever read about feral cats. You are a ignoramus and a invasive human species.
      Humans in Australia kill more wildlife than feral cats, like police bludgeoning to death a wombat running away and claimed it was Aboriginal heritage. Or the rancher who bulldozed threes for cattle and killing nearly 100 chlamydia free koalas or what about the teens who ran down a dozen emu’s or the men who ran down kangaroos and laughed.
      You need to do your research before you accuse someone else of being clueless.

      • ForePaws says:

        True humans are a much worse invasive species, that is no excuse to leave this devastating invasive species in Australia, it would be like not trying to remove the cane toads rabbits from Australia.
        I do have a person first hand knowledge of Toxoplasmosis and done a lot of researched into it for that reason.
        If wikipedia is your primary source of knowledge that explain your the ignoramus statement and to stoop to your level all I can say to that is “I’m Rubber, Your Glue what you say to me bounces off and sticks to you”.

        • Re, your first paragraph; yes, but the best way to deal with a problem is to tackle the cause that will have the biggest beneficial effect first which means curbing human excesses before dealing with feral cats. That is all I am saying.

          • ForePaws says:

            Like I said, your correct culling the human population would be the best solution, but unfortunately that is completely illegal (even the really stupid one), the best we can do now is reduce the invasive species it is legal to do.

  2. Daniel says:

    And now we have a mouse plague that has nothing to do with the culling of feral cats. Please point me to one credible source that says the feral cat cull was responsible for this outbreak? I’ve researched it thoroughly, and cats (or the lack of them) are not to blame.

    • I am not saying that the culling feral cats has produced this mouse plague. I’m just saying that when you remove from the ecosystem feral cats you are inclined to end up with problems such as this one. The Australian feral cat is part of the ecosystem, firmly entrenched. And what I am also saying is that Australians should use semi-feral cats constructively to help dampen down the plague. And I would also argue that if Australians were successful in totally eradicating all feral cats from the continent, then there would be rodent problems in the place of feral cats.

      • danny says:

        cats aren’t part of the Australian ecosystem. they’re an invasive species that has been destroying the ecosystem and this is why they’re being killed off.

  3. Cat's Meow says:

    In reference to the title: ROFLMAO! ?????

    Australia, rethink the rat poison! Once the mice start dying from the poison, NOTHING will eat the carcasses! This is true for two (2) reasons:
    1) Very rarely will a predator eat anything it didn’t kill.
    2) The animals that WILL eat mice can tell that it died from unnatural causes and will avoid the dead body.
    I know from personal experience. I found the dehydrated, almost paper thin, body of a squirrel in my yard near the property line. The neighbor poisoned it years before and NOTHING ate it.

    The best part?
    You will be stuck with the expensive task of removing the dead mice/rats. Think of the stench and diseases this will bring. Granted, some of them will die in plain sight. The rest will hide, and their bodies will rot before they are found. Not too healthy for you or your children!

    Practice TNR and relocate ALL the feral cats to the rat-infested areas. The cats won’t multiply, and the mice will die. That quickly solves both problems at the same time.

    • ForePaws says:

      You wake up Cat’s Meow using a invasive species to take care of another invasive species never works just ask the old lady that swallowed a fly.

      • tamara says:

        OMG that’s a child nursery rhyme.
        Encyclopaedia Britannica. (Accessed 2018, June 1). Black Death. Retrieved from; In the Middle Ages, devil-fearing Christians killed cats, which carried the unintended consequence of increasing the rat population and the spread of the Black Death.
        So go ahead and kill all the feral cats in Australia and their population can die of the black death! Killing cats leads to explosions in rats and mice population. History does not lie but people do. Some provinces in Australia it’s illegal to trap, neuter, release which is the most ignorant thing I’ve ever read! Irresponsible POS owners who throw their cat away is the problem. Humans always pointing the finger at anything but themselves!

        • ForePaws says:

          You may want to review the explosions in rats and mice population in Australia, even with the feral cats, considering the diseases that cats carry in some ways they can be worse then the mice and rats.
          Feral cats are not the great mouser people imagen. The native snakes, retiles and birds that are the main victims of ferial cats would be do much better at controlling Australia’s Mice and rat situation. I agree spade and release is a good plan young cats are also a preferred pray of feral cats, but complete elimination of cats from this non-native environment is the best solution.

    • tamara says:

      Excuse me many birds eat living and or dead mice and rats. Vultures and hyenas and dingo’s will just about eat anything that’s dead or dying.

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