The Feral Cat is found all over mainland Australia. This
destructive, killing machine has no natural enemies therefore it
has flourished in many habitats including the
(wet and dry sclerophyll forests), grasslands, desert,
rainforests and suburbia. They are found on inland costal areas,
cities and towns, desert areas, anywhere that provides adequate
food, i.e. a rabbit infested areas or small birds.
During the day feral cats shelter in hollow logs, rabbit burrows, debris, almost anything that is dark and cool.
Feral cats are territorial animals. The territories that cats have can be very varied in size, due to the availability of resources, e.g. food availability, amount of cover for shelter etc. A dominant male cat could have a territory of up to 8 square kilometres, where as a female’s territory is quite smaller, it can even be halved when raising kittens. The feral cat marks the boundaries of their territory with a scent marking with pole-clawing, urinating and exposed excreted wastes.
The feral cats found in Australia are mainly of the short-hair variety. Their coats come in a range of black and grey, tortoiseshell, tabby, and ginger. Most of the time the area they live in is determined by the coat colour.
Black and grey feral cats are most commonly found in scrub or where wood cover is denser. Ginger coloured feral cats are more likely to be found on the desert plains and the red-soiled grasslands. ‘Tabby’ coloured feral cats are more common on rocky slopes. This is due to the feral cat being able to camouflage into its surroundings. If a feral cat cannot blend, then the animals it stalks will see it and the cat will go hungry, this is referred to as ‘natural selection’. The result of this is that you get an area that has similar coloured feral cats.
This feral monster has become such a serious pest and problem it is now the subject of an annual feral animal hunt. The ‘Pig and Pussy Hunt’ is held in the Northern Territory and starts on Boxing Day (December 26) and the weigh-in is held on New Year’s Day. The prize for the largest carcass was $700 AUD for the 2003 competition.