Categories: feral cats

Enormous feral cat in Australia desert is not so big after all

The online press are fond of clickbait and this story is a good example. All of them are reporting on a picture of an “enormous feral cat” with a lizard in its mouth. The location: Simpson Desert. The lizard is a goanna of which there are 25 species in Australia. They are predatory and can be large but they range greatly in size. Reportedly the goanna in the mouth of this cat is a sand goanna or racehorse goanna but is this correct? If so they can weight as much as 6 kg or 13 lb. But this is the top end weight for this species. This, therefore, is not the average weight. I’d suspect that they typically weigh around half that at about 7 pounds or less. However, this goanna looks much smaller. Perhaps it was a juvenile.

Australian feral cat described as ‘enormous’. This cat is not enormous but a large feral cat weighing an estimated 23 pounds.

There are two ways to estimate the size of the cat beyond estimating the size of the prey. Both are more reliable. This is a feral version of a domestic cat. I know that some Australia feral cats can be unusual large but the biggest are not going to be heavier than around 20+ pounds, the top end weight of a domestic cat. That’s a fact not hype. Also the scrub vegetation behind the cat gives the game away. These wispy plants are about 15 inches tall. This guides me to estimate the cat to be around 15 inches tall to the shoulder. The world’s biggest pet cat as was and perhaps still is, is a female Savannah cat called Magic. She was a little over 17 inches to the shoulder.

So my conclusion is that this so called enormous feral cat is a large feral cat. It is not a feral cat version of a leopard or some other large wild cat which is how the newspapers are describing it in hyped up language.

FYI – the cat in question is a nice example of a mackerel tabby and he is stocky. This is almost certainly a male cat and a very competent hunter. I don’t like feral cats killing Australia’s native species more than anyone else but you have to admire the feral cat, a great survivor and magnificent predator. If Australians want them dead, please do it humanely as it is your ethical duty to do it that way.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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