Common name: Feral cat

Scientific name: Felis catus

A feral cats is not just a cat that has gone wandering and especially not anyone’s beloved pet. There is a dark side to the cat community; feral cats are defined as cats that are wild or otherwise unmanaged and have none of their needs provided by humans. Feral cats have been sighted all along Spencer Rd, mostly I suspect dumped from town.

Why Are They A Pest?

They have been branded as ‘the ultimate predators’ in New Zealand and have been nominated as among 100 of the ‘World’s worst invaders’. New Zealand’s unique native wildlife is particularly vulnerable to predation by cats. Feral cats kill young and adult birds and occasionally take eggs, prey on native lizards, fish, frogs and large invertebrates.

Issues

Feral Cats carry parasites and toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease) that causes abortions in sheep and illness in humans.

Feral and stray cats can be aggressive towards pet cats. Through fighting they cause severe injuries, sometimes resulting in the pet cat having to be put down. Stray cats are likely to interbreed with the unneutered domestic cat population and may spread infectious diseases.

Management of feral cats not only helps our biodiversity but helps keep your fluffy pet safer. Responsible cat ownership includes microchipping, de-sexing and keeping cats contained at night. These actions all have a positive impact on cat health, biodiversity protection and reduces the potential for feral cats to spread diseases and breed.

What Do They Look Like?

Feral cats can be similar to domestic cats in both size and colour. Adult male cats are generally larger than the females and can weigh up to 7 kg. They tend to be solitary and territorial compared to domestic stray or unwanted cats which tend to form colonies. Feral cats are mainly active at night and can be found in a wide range of urban, rural and forest habitats. Their diet is wide-ranging and includes small mammals, fish, birds and invertebrates. They have two to three litters per year with an average of four young in each.

How Can I Control Them?

Trapping: this is use of a baited live capture trap to lure and capture the cat. Once caught the cat is identified, in case it is domestic, if not it is euthanised.

Shooting: Generally, feral cats are easy to identify, they may look similar to domestic cats but they act and move in a different manner, more furtive. Shooting is only undertaken in rural areas away from habitation.