Cat’s reap terrible toll, finds book

Feral and domestic cats kill over two billion mostly native reptiles, birds and mammals, a new book released by Charles Darwin University has detailed.

The book, “Cats in Australia: Companion and killer”, compiles key findings from hundreds of studies and management experience about cats across Australia.

It describes the origins, spread and ecology of cats; the impacts of feral and pet cats on Australian wildlife; the impacts of cats on human health and livestock productivity; the legal and moral context for their management; and options for managing feral and pet cats to reduce the toll they take on biodiversity.

The authors, CDU Professor John Woinarski, The Australian National University’s Professor Sarah Legge and The University of Sydney’s Professor Chris Dickman are also leaders of a major research program investigating the impacts of feral cats on Australian wildlife through the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program.

“Cats tamed humans about 4000 years ago and since then they have cunningly used humans to provide food, comfort and safety, and to aid their dispersal across, and conquest of, most of the world,” Professor Woinarski said.

“We want to alert and inform all Australians to the threat cats pose to our wildlife. Our community and leaders need to manage this threat far more effectively if we want to conserve Australia’s unique wildlife.

“With almost four million pet cats in Australia, this is also a call for those with pet cats to help contribute to this conservation effort, by being responsible with the cats that own them.

The University of Sydney’s Professor Dickman said that each day cats killed more than 3.1 million mammals, 1.8 million reptiles and 1.3 million birds in Australia.

“Many of Australia’s native species cannot withstand these high levels of predation and will become increasingly at risk of extinction unless the problem of cats in Australia is solved,” Professor Dickman said.

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