The Feral Cat has had a substantial effect on the Australian
environment. It has driven many Australian native animals to
endangerment and even extinction. The sub-species of the Red-
fronted Parakeet on
Macquarie Island, and a group of captive
bred Rufous Hare-wallabies, which were released in the
Desert, in the
Northern Territory, during 1990 and 1991 have
become endangered due to the release of the cat into the
Australian bush. The wallabies were all killed due to the feral
cats in the area. It was also found that a feral cat was to
blame for the plummeting numbers of rock wallabies in an
isolated colony in tropical
Queensland. Cats may well be
considered the most destructive animals on small islands.
Other animals that are extinct on small islands where they were once abundant include:
- Burrowing Bettong (Bettongia lesueur)
- Spectacled Hare-Wallaby (Lagorchestes conspicillatus)
Whilst cats do prey on rabbits, they do very little to reduce
the population. Rabbits just sustain the amount of feral cats in
Not only does the feral cat have a substantial affect on the food chain, it affects the other native predators by depleting their food sources which are the same as that of the feral cat. Such animals are:
- The Eastern Quoll
- The Wedge-tailed Eagle
- Reptiles, such as the Goanna and the Lace Monitor
- Dingoes (they’re not native but the ecosystems have evolved and adjusted so the Dingo doesn’t have the effect cats and foxes have)
Cats eat the food vital for the other predators and due to
the high population numbers, not only do they eat all the small
native animals, they leave nothing for the other predators. In
most areas, eagles and hawks have had to change their diet so
they can survive.
Our own ‘native cat’ is endangered. The Eastern Quoll was once abundant throughout Australia and Tasmania. They are now rare on the mainland and with the recent establishment of foxes in Tasmania and the lacing of 1080 in wood and traps that the Quolls eat; they aren’t going to be as abundant as what they have been recently.
Cats also add to the endangerment of this little ‘cat’ more so than a lot of people know. If a cat comes near a female Quoll, the Quoll becomes infertile quickly. It cannot be helped, but since there are so many cats in their habitat, so many female Quolls are infertile and their numbers are declining.
Cats also carry a fatal disease that is harmful and fatal, particularly for the native marsupials. It is called Toxoplasmosis. It causes blindness, paralysis, respiratory disorders, and loss of young due to stillbirth and spontaneous abortion.
Cats are also carriers of the disease, Rabies, and if it were to be introduced it would be devastating to the fragile Australian ecosystem. Rabies is a disease that affects not only animals, but also humans. There is evidence that states that a bite from a rabid cat is worse than the bite from a rabid dog. It is also more painful. When a rabid dog attacks, it goes for the arms and legs of the victim, whereas the cat attacks the head of the victim and bites and claws violently. If rabies was introduced into Australia, with the amount of feral animals, primarily the cat, there would be no hope in eradicating it.