Categories: predation

Australian drought forces feral cat to scavenge on a 30 kg kangaroo

A PhD student, Emma Spencer, from the University of Sydney was surprised to see in her camera trap video a ginger tabby feral cat scavenging on the carcass of a 30 kg kangaroo who’d died in the desert under harsh drought conditions. The conditions had forced this cat and others to scavenge which is not their favoured feeding process.

Feral cat scavenges on 30 kg kangaroo in Bush Heritage Australia’s Ethabuka Reserve. Photo: Camera trap picture by Emma Spencer.

Spencer said that the cat returned regularly to the kangaroo carcass and had eaten a large part of it. She was surprised that other predators had not scavenged in the same way. Perhaps there are other animals available at that time.

The cat looks incredibly fit and in good health despite the harsh conditions. It seems that crows are hanging about on the fringes of this activity waiting for their chance.

I’d like to write a little bit about domestic and feral cats scavenging. They do not scavenge at random. They can make informed choices. They obviously avoid foods which they decide could make them ill. When feral cats eat food that they have not killed themselves they are cautious. They decide to make the diet varied in the interests of their safety. This prevents the buildup of anything toxic in one carcass.

The cat in question fed solely on this kangaroo carcass indicating a desperate situation. Normally feral cats in Australia feed on small mammals just like any other feral cat. They take birds, reptiles and marsupials et cetera as well but clearly they do not normally feed on kangaroos.

Dr Bradshaw, a cat behaviourist and scientist, did a test on domestic cat scavenging. He says that when cats scavenge for their food they use “nutritional wisdom”. Scavenging cats, as best as they can, eat a variety of food to produce a balanced diet. They did this rather than simply eating the food that was easier to find.

Ornithologists decry cats preying on birds but it is said that often cats scavenge on dead birds. Or they attack dying birds. When did you last see a dead bird? It is a thought. People who dislike foxes say they kill domestic cats. It is more likely that they eat cats killed by traffic. These are two more examples of scavenging.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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