Feral Cats in Australia

Topics: Cat, Felis, Cats Pages: 3 (657 words) Published: August 13, 2007

Domestic cats originated from an ancestral wild species, the European and African Wild Cat, Felis silvestris. The domestic cat is now recognised as a separate species, Felis catus. Domestic cats arrived in Australia with the Dutch shipwrecks in the 17th century; some of these cats escaped and formed the first generation of the feral cat. During the 19th century cats were intentionally released as a misguided form of rabbit pest control. The feral cat turned into an ecological disaster and has driven many of Australia's native animals to endangerment or extinction. With a rapid reproduction rate, it is now estimated that there are over 12 million feral cats in Australia, inhabiting all states, territories and offshore islands.

Feral cat Distribution – now found throughout Australia

Economic Impact: Feral cats have had a negative impact on the economy, repair environmental damage and control costs. Native animals provide a focal point for tourism, which produces a major source of economic return for Australia. The diseases cats carry can spread to and kill domestic livestock, this causes a loss of income in the agricultural and export industries.

Environmental Impact:
Feral cats have a devastating effect on Biological diversity, preying on native birds, marsupials, amphibians, reptiles and insects. They deplete the food of native animals and compete for habitat. Feral cats carry fatal diseases such as toxoplasmosis, which can be passed onto native animals.

Social Impact: The conservation of Australia's native wildlife is vital in supporting eco-tourism. The wildlife creates opportunities for leisure and recreational activities eg bird watching. Australia has the world's most unique wildlife and as we lose it, Australia's cultural identity is changed. Native wildlife is also important in the culture of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders alive.

Political Impact: Conservationists see cats as destructive, however,...
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