Killing Feral Cats: Do Australians Know What They Are Doing?

Killing feral cats australia

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
It is well-known in the cat world and even outside of it that the Australian authorities wish to eradicate the feral cats of Australia because they consistently say that feral cat destroys precious native wild species. They sometimes hunt them. Australians also have been hunting down dingos for donkey’s years –  actually about 70 years. They dislike the dingo as much as they dislike the feral cat. Both are predators. The dingo is descended from the Asian wolf and the feral cat is descended from the domestic cat which was brought to the country by settlers.

Both the dingo and the feral cat are part of the Australian ecosystem. Both have been around in Australia, living in the wild, for a long, long time. They are fully integrated into the wildlife of Australia.

In all studies on the prey of the Australian feral cat, mammals have consistently comprised the major part of the diet throughout the year with other vertebrates especially birds comprising only a minor component. Rabbits and rodents appear to be the favoured prey. So we can conclude that the Australian feral cat mainly kills Australian rats. I’m not sure why Australians want to protect the Australian rat. The usual species of rat attacked by feral cats is the brush rat and the swamp rat. Can an Australian please tell me why these rodents require protection?

As for the dingo, a recent study argues that this sinister and despised predator should be nurtured rather than killed in an effort to raise their numbers because the study concluded that killing them is damaging Australia’s ecosystem.

The study was conducted by the University of New South Wales. It was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. By killing the dingo Australians are harming Australia’s smaller native wildlife. This includes some endangered species. The argument goes as follows:

When you kill the dingo, their prey, which are kangaroos, foxes and possums flourish. As a consequence the prey of kangaroos foxes and possums decline in numbers. The prey of these animals includes bandicoots. Also, Kangaroos, in large numbers can destroy vegetation.

There is also a conflict between the two policies of killing dingos and killing feral cats. When you kill feral cats the rodent population should rise. When you kill dingos the rodent population will decline because as mentioned rodents are killed by the prey of the dingo.

I have to conclude, therefore, that the Australian authorities do not know what they are doing and they are operating on an emotional level. In addition they are failing to address the main killer and the main barrier to the flourishing of wildlife, namely Australians themselves. Probably the primary reason why certain Australian wildlife species fail to flourish or are endangered is because of a loss of habitat due to the activities of people.

The whole process seems to me to be tortured, distorted and upside down and needs a complete rethink.

37 thoughts on “Killing Feral Cats: Do Australians Know What They Are Doing?”

  1. So what I’m hearing is that you understand that these cats are a threat to our native animals, but your issue is that we kill them. We also kill sheep, cows, pigs, chickens etc etc. I would argue a counter point here and say is a cats life worth more than the native wildlife we have in Australia. Wildlife that is found no where else on earth.

    What I also see is that you seem to be married to your idea, with no first hand experience with the issue. To defend your point you choose to insult Australia and Australian people for how we deal with this issue. I can understand you have a passion for cats, that’s fine, but I’ll choose to side with the many Australian ecologists over a lawyer.

    • Your argument is weak. You kill livestock under controlled, hopefully relatively humane conditions with some recognition of the animal’s sentience. Aussie’s kill feral cats anyway they like, cruel or not cruel, poison or shooting. Slow agonising death or quick. Anything goes. That’s one difference. And what about the domestic cats you kill in the process? Someone’s pet!?

      Yes, I sometimes insult Aussies because when they kill feral cats as described and indeed kangaroos (at night for football boot uppers). They are behaving in a way that deserves an insult. A lot of people agree with me. But I guess Aussie as sensitive to being criticised. And they’re too arrogant to see their blindness.

      You guys are also contributing to climate change by mining millions of tons of coal when climate change is damaging the habitat of small native species in Australia in the hundreds of millions!

      • I think you are missing the point. You’re angry that we kill cats yes? So if we killed them humanely we would be doing the right thing? We could round feral cats up and take them to a slaughter house. That would be better? Death is horrible, people find it hard to understand, but those people tend to be people who don’t understand how cruel nature is and have spent very little real time in it.

        A criticism would be “I think it’s cruel for Australians to kill cats”. You my friend are insulting us. There is a difference there in the way you phrase your words. You don’t want someone to come on here and take offence just because of your language. Be a shame for your message to be drowned out due to a poor choice of words. And on that topic, am I not also getting a sense that you my friend, are also feeling a little insulted and are now being defensive?

        Btw if a domesticated cat is running around in the native bush land 200km from anywhere then as far as I’m concerned the owner is not a very responsible person and is responsible for that cats death. Would you let a dog run around on the road? No.

        I’m not going to address the coal comment. I agree with you. Coal is bad. Our government needs to step up. But pointing out that coal is bad doesn’t negate the argument that feral cats, my dear friend, are also bad.

        I look forward to your reply Michael.

        • Yes, if you fellow Aussies killed feral cats genuinely humanely in the same way a veterinarian euthanizes a chronically ill domestic cat, I could accept it. Or what about a mass TNR program? Something decent and moral would do. But what the killers do is entirely immoral. It is obscene and objectionable. It is crude and ignorant. I object to it. Anyone who is gratuitously cruel to animals deserves to be insulted and worse in my book. My words were chosen careful and not a poor choice. I meant what I said and stand by the words.

          • Ok so to round up this conversation the take home point is we are killing our feral cats wrong, we should instead find a more humane way to kill cats such as you have suggested. if we did that you are fine with us exterminating a couple million feral cats. I mean if you just wrote that instead of all the other “facts” I’d might even agree with you on some level even though it’s not a practical solution, it would be a nicer way to do it.

            Btw TNR means we would be putting these cats back into the wilderness. Why out a cat back in the wilderness to eat more native wildlife.

            I just wanted to add one last comment. I shoot feral cats and foxes almost weekly on my property ( I own about 100 acres of amazing Aussie bushland). A good “killer” will kill a cat or fox quickly. Without suffering. A bullet is just as good as a might even argue it’s less stressful than euthanasia would be. That would require trapping and transportation of a feral cat which I am sure would be stressful for the animal.

            • Well, you have to be a brilliant shot to kill animals humanely at a distance. I don’t see it as practical. I’d bet that you actually shoot these animals partly for the fun of it. Correct? Look, although we disagree at a fundamental level, we do have some common ground. I do understand the feral cat problem and the fact that they kill small marsupials and mammals etc. but if you did what you do in the UK you’d end up in prison. It’d be a crime under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It is not just me who sees shooting feral cats as immoral. All of Britain would agree with me.

              If you have the time and the inclination, I’d like you to write an article for the website on this topic! I would be nice to have an article by a person who’s directly involved with feral cats in Australia. Please think about it. And if you agree don’t dress it up. Give me the raw facts and feelings.

              • We may have strict gun control laws here Michael, but I can assure you, those of us with guns, know how to use them. The law here states if we are to dispatch an animal this way we must make every attempt to kill it humanely (aim for head or chest).

                Shooting cats is fun? Are you trying to squeeze in another insult there Michael? Us barbaric Australians must have a list for blood so we go out into the night on a murder rampage? No. We do this to control the population of cats/foxes. However, what I will say is getting a clean shot on an animal, is satisfying. Like an archer hitting the center target.

                If we did what the UK did our native animal population would have to contend with higher cat and fox populations along with all the other environmental pressures we put on them as humans.What works for you in England (do you even have any truely wild areas left there??) does not work for us here.

                Also all of Britian may agree with you but it was the British that brought these cats over in the first place so maybe we should be getting you guys to come over and pay to get rid of them.

                I’d like to respectfully decline the offer Michael. Although I do shoot feral cats and foxes, you would be better seeking the input of an Ecologist who has a deeper understanding of the issue than I do. I’m just a guy who loves his native wildlife.

                Cheers Michael.

  2. Mate, I’ve never seen a more armchair review of a serious issue. I’ve live in South west Western Australia. I shoot and see first hand what foxes and feral cats do to our Aussie native wildlife. I regularly travel up north and the Aboriginal people I meet also shoot/trap them as they recognise the them as a pest. Next thing you’ll be telling us that the cane toad is a natural part of our ecosystem.

    Also just fyi feral cats came with British settlers so maybe a couple of hundred years here, Dingos have been here for thousands of years. You can’t compare the two.

    • I entirely stand by my assessment. I can look at things from a different perspective. I would argue that you are too close to the problem. You immediately equate feral cats with pests. But it is you guys who created these ‘pests’. It is you guys who through carelessness allowed this to happen. Don’t you see the immorality in dealing with your problem by simply trying to eradicate it through brutal killings?

      Without any concern for the pain and distress caused to the animal. Don’t you see that feral cats are sentient creatures like any other creature? That appears to be of no concern to you. Although it is quite nice to hear from an Australian living in Australia. I could do with more of this because it’s nice to get first hand feedback but your attitude is what I would expect; narrowmindedness and a lack of morality to be frank. You should be dealing with feral cats humanely because Australians created the problem. You don’t blame the cat you blame yourselves and go from that starting point.

  3. I am Australian but I live in the USA. I work with a trap-neuter-return program here. Why TNR isn’t more prevalent in Australia I don’t know. There has been a lot of biased Australian press about cats’ destruction of the native bird and small marsupial population, but my opinion is a lot of it is hype and fear-mongering. People are pressured to keep their cats indoors or in enclosed cat runs. Give me a break. Cats are the scapegoat for bigger human problems. The biggest problem in Australia is ignorant people at all levels of society and decision-making. The general public doing whatever the hell they want and ignoring the consequences (roadkill of native wildlife, air, water and soil pollution, habitat destruction etc) and politicians giving in to big business (esp. the money hungry multinationals who don’t give a rat’s a$$ about the welfare of the country) which is destroying native habitat nationwide (e.g. housing tracts, strip malls, mining etc).

    • Please don’t read my comment to mean that everyone is ignorant, lol! I just meant a certain measure of the population at each level simply hasn’t thought deeply, critically, and independently about these issues. Decision making, especially legal or governmental, should not be based on knee-jerk reactions, emotion, ignorance, or force.

    • There speaks a person of good sense! We have been saying for years that it’s the ignorance of people at fault, not the cats. Humans have created all the problems but the cats are the ones suffering.
      TNR does work, we’ve proved it in England, but it’s too much trouble for some authorities, they would rather just kill the innocent victims.


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