Why Australia Has to Kill 2 Million Cats

ENVIRONMENT

The cull isn’t part of some cruel anti-cat agenda. (Washington Post)

Feral cats are actually fierce feline predators responsible for killing more than a billion small mammals and birds each year. Watch our Crittercam video to see how a game of cat-and-mouse really plays out . . .

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Feral cats, like these in Baltimore, are considered a pest species in Australia. Photograph by Vincent J. Musti, National Geographic

Feral cats, like these in Baltimore, are considered a pest species in Australia.
Photograph by Vincent J. Musti, National Geographic

We wouldn’t be National Geographic if we didn’t have a map, would we? Use MapMaker Interactive to compare the population density of Australia’s feral cats with the population density of Australia’s humans. See any correlations? Map courtesy National Land and Water Resources, Australia

We wouldn’t be National Geographic if we didn’t have a map, would we? Use MapMaker Interactive to compare the population density of Australia’s feral cats with the population density of Australia’s humans. See any correlations?
Map courtesy National Land and Water Resources, Australia

Discussion Ideas

  • Why has the Australian government announced plans to kill 2 million cats?
    • Cats are an introduced species in Australia, having only arrived with European settlers in the early 1800s. In fact, cats are an invasive species that threaten Australia’s indigenous animal populations. Today, there are more than 20 million feral cats in Australia. The extinction of Australia’s desert bandicoot and big-eared hopping mouse have been linked to cats and other invasive predators.

 

  • Is Australia outlawing pet cats?
    • No! The cull applies only to feral cats. According to the Washington Post, “pet cats are A-OK—as long as they’re neutered, microchipped, and not allowed to roam around hunting.”
    • The cull will focus on remote desert areas, where indigenous wildlife is most threatened.

 

  • How will the government cull the feral cats?
    • Poison and traps.

 

  • Do any other invasive species threaten Australia’s wacky and wonderful native wildlife?
    • Yes! A lot! The Australian government addresses the problem with “environmental biosecurity”—”the protection of the environment and social amenity from the negative effects associated with invasive species; including weeds, pests and diseases. It occurs across the entire biosecurity continuum: pre-border preparedness, border protection and post-border management and control.”

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Washington Post: Why Australia has to kill 2 million cats

Nat Geo: House Cats: Natural-born killers on the hunt video

Australian Government, Department of the Environment: The Feral Cat

Nat Geo: Cane Toads: Toxic toads leap across Australia video

7 responses to “Why Australia Has to Kill 2 Million Cats

  1. I just read some of the Aussies. Lets see how did we get from shooting cats….horses….to people shooting people. We in the US are a free society and we have an amendment that allows to own weapons. Let me remind all those that seem to think guns kill…..not true….people kill…… And as a woman that has 2 degrees one in anthropology and one in archaeology ever since man. Climbed. down from the trees and stood on 2 feet he has been obsessed with killing his own kind and animals. The loss of indigenous species all over the world can be traced to pretty much one cause….MAN. I see some pretty stupid government ideas that Australia has put forth….I mean if you are so worred about your indigenous species how did that introduction of rabbits…..cane toads.. into the Australian environment…..should I go on. That certainly worked well for you. How about the salties and other crocs that died from ingesting cane toads.

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  2. If Australia followed the program of Trap Nueter Release like we do in Texas there would be No Feral cat problem in Australia. The response from the Aussies seems always to kill once they…..the irresponsible people…..let matters get out of hand. I watched a program on the Aussies response to supposed problem wild horses. Let me see now I think that was also lets get in a helicopter and shoot the horses. My parents had actually booked a trip to Australia at the time but cancelled it after seeing the program. I deal with feral cats all the time…..yes those ficious overgrown house cats left to breed in the wild. We are gatting a handle on them here thanks to like minded people hete……mostly women but a few men ….and we deal with those hissing snarling cats that somethimes weigh 20 to 25 lbs especially if they have crossed with our native feline species. Gosh we Texas women must be a breed apart…..come to Texas and we will show you how to humanely and properly handle the situation. I bet that 2 million will drastically drop with TNR humanely instituted. But if you handle it like you did the hhorses well I suppose we know how this will all end. How about putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of those trully responsible here…..the Aussies themselves…..proper nuetering….identification on animals….and vaccinations. Would this have possibly eliminated the issue from the very getgo.

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  3. Actually the feral cats in no way resemble the lead picture of possibly stay urban cats in Baltimore. They look very sweet and like any pet cat.
    I have bushwalked in some remote areas of Australia. Coming across a feral cat is actually a frightening experience. These are not lost pets gone stray eating out of suburban rubbish bins.
    They are wild animals. Generally bush bread ferals are much larger than domestic cats, they are mangy and wild, hiss at, snarl and threaten any one that may come anywhere near them. Hiding out in dense bush or secluded desert outcrops most Australians will never see a feral cat in their lifetime. They hunt the many small mostly nocturnal marsupials found only in Australia, many already to extinction unlike cats which are found on every landmass and are in no threat of extinction.
    I understand the consternation of animal lovers I am one, but in this instance your concern is ill informed and misplaced. If you were to see and or hold say Bilbiesand other native Australian marsupials which are in a battle against extinction you may feel different. If you were ever to actually come across a feral cat you would be amongst the first demanding their extinction. You will also need a change of underwear. These feral cats make your mountain bobcat look like a cuddly toy from a ToysRUs catalogue.

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  4. It upsets me to know that these cats are to be culled through no fault of theirs, but I understand the need to do it. We canot afford to lose anymore of our wildlife. I only oppose the method of extermination which sounds inhumane.

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    • Well we don’t gun down our own children indiscriminately in there schools, we have the commonsense and political will to avert as far as possible such calamities, as we are here trying to divert the calamity of natural species distinction

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