Government declares war on feral cats

07 September 2023

The Albanese Government has today opened consultation on a new action plan to stop feral cats from decimating native wildlife and driving vulnerable native species to the brink of extinction.

The plan sets new goals to reduce feral cat numbers across Australia. Goals include no new extinctions caused by feral cats and making sure feral cats do not endanger native species that are not currently threatened.

The plan outlines legislative, planning, and research needs to ensure effective management of this destructive predator.

It considers advances in technology and the development of new tools to control feral cats, such as the Felixer cat grooming trap. It also looks at preventing cats from spreading to islands, removing cats from key areas, and expanding cat-free fenced and island havens.

Cats kill two billion reptiles, birds and mammals every year in Australia. That’s almost 6 million every night.

Feral cats have played a role in two thirds of mammal extinctions over the last 200 years and currently threaten over 200 nationally listed threatened species, including the Greater Bilby, Numbat, and Gilbert’s potoroo.

We know feral cats stalk and kill native species, but they also compete for food and can carry deadly disease. Eradication of feral cats and better management of cat numbers can significantly reduce the threat to native wildlife from this lethal predator.

While the new plan is under development, the Government is wasting no time taking action to combat the deadly impact of feral cats. The Government is investing in successful programs like $4 million to eradicate feral cats from Christmas Island and $2.273 million towards the French Island feral cat eradication program. Projects are also finding safer and more effective ways to reduce feral cat numbers, including $400,000 to develop a feral cat bait for use in northern Australia that is safe around our native animals. The Plan will guide investment in further projects and tools.

Public consultation on the new plan is open until December 2023. You can read it here:

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek:

“When domesticated cats are living inside our homes, snuggled up at the end of our beds, we rightly love them. But feral cats are the opposite of adorable. They are walking, stalking, ruthless killers.

“If we don’t act now, our native animals don’t stand a chance.

“Cats kill six million animals every night in Australia. They played a role in Australia's two latest extinctions. And they are one of the main reasons Australia is the mammal extinction capital of the world.

“I want to see a feral cat free Australia. If we are serious about protecting our precious threatened species, then we have to tackle one of their biggest killers.

“We are declaring war on feral cats. And today, we are setting up our battle plan to win that war.”