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Why Australia Plans to Kill Millions of Feral Cats May 02 2019, 18 Comments



In a controversial move to preserve native fauna, the Australian government is using poisoned sausages to kill 2 million feral cats by 2020. The plan to “cull” 2 million feral cats was set into motion in 2015, and has faced much controversy and criticism. Most recently, the government has settled on sausages stuffed with a potent poison containing the active ingredient sodium fluoroacetate, known as “1080.” The sausages are made of a blend of kangaroo meat, chicken, and other spices designed to appeal to feral cats.

Marked as "invasive predators," feral cats in the wilds of Australia kill hundreds of millions of native birds, mammals, and reptiles each year. Cats arrived with European settlers in the 1700s and are thus classified as an invasive species, one that has apparently been wreaking havoc on native wildlife.


According to the New York Times, feral cat overpopulation has already led to the extinction of many native species; 34 mammal species found only in Australia have vanished. The Times wrote that cats are thought to be directly responsible for 22 of those extinctions.

While these numbers are certainly devastating, there are Australian scientists who question the basis of targeting 2 million feral cats. The scientists, in part, say the government had not given a clear metric or scientific reason for that number.

They had failed to indicate how, or whether, the cull would actually impact the feral cat population - as feral cats reproduce at very rapid rates. They also did not necessarily state how and whether the culling of 2 million feral cats would actually increase the populations of endangered species. Estimates of the number of feral cats actually living in Australia vary widely.

The researchers published a paper in the journal Conservation Letters, in which they questioned the 2 million target:

“The focus on killing cats runs the risk of distracting attention away from other threats to biodiversity, most prominent of which is widespread, ongoing habitat loss, which has been largely overlooked in the Threatened Species Strategy.”  While feral cats are a big issue, according to CNN, the government has focused heavily on them over more “politically sensitive” issues like habitat loss caused by urban expansion, logging, and mining.

The researchers continued in their published paper:  "The culling target [of 2 million] is a highly visible symbol of a broader campaign around feral cat research and management in Australia, rather than a direct indicator of conservation action and success. We are concerned that progress toward the 2 million target could be misinterpreted as progress toward conserving threatened species when the link between the two is not clear.”

Similarly, Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, called the program "commendable;" however, she also states it fails to address habitat loss, which is an even greater threat to vulnerable species.

"The strategy … fails to meaningfully address the biggest threat to threatened species and ecological communities — the loss and fragmentation of habitat — either through investment in new protected areas or by safeguarding existing critical places," she told The Guardian.

This plan to cull cats not only in the hundreds of thousands, but in the millions, is why programs like Trap, Netuer, Release are important to stopping feral cat overpopulation over time. TNR programs reduce the number of feral kittens being born and work to prevent overpopulation.

What is TNR?

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a proven humane method to spay or neuter unaltered feral cats by safely trapping them, then returning them to the location where they were picked up.

  1. Trap: All feral cats in a colony, or as many as possible, are humanely trapped.
  2. Neuter: The trapped cats are taken to an animal or veterinary clinic to be spayed or neutered, receive vaccinations, and are sometimes marked by eartipping to let people know that the cat has been through the TNR process.
  3. Return: Healthy adult feral cats are returned to their outdoor homes, where their lives are greatly improved without the strains of mating behaviors (aggression, fighting) and pregnancy. Stray cats and kittens that are socialized to humans are adopted into homes.


What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. 


CatQueen on May 06 2019 at 10:10PM

They cannot be this stupid to think the poison will be controlled to effect only cats. 1.) As a cat lover and advocate this is just straight up evil as can be . 2.) Anyone with half a brain has the foresight to see this will all go to shit. 3.) Citizens of Australia should care about this. Not just for the cats but for themselves as well. Can they not understand the inevitable risk here ? Rot in hell ! What blatant hostility toward our Loving God and his creations.

Erin on May 06 2019 at 08:36PM

Is there any way to prevent this?

Yuka Shiraii on May 06 2019 at 07:05PM

I changed my mind about Australia. It was my dream to visit there. But, the government are heartless towards these innocent cats. Three words to describe Australia, cruel, nasty, country.

Heidy on May 05 2019 at 09:00PM

How are the going to control where the poison ends up? Other animals might ingest it or the cats after they have been poisined. This is a seriously not a good idea. Not to mention extremely cruel. There are alternative methods. And no, there is no clear and definitive link between species loss and cats and consequently no clear benefit to cat killing and species survival. If anything, history had shown that human intervention of this kind only makes things worse. Someone who hates cats just flippantly decided this was a good idea.

Dylan on May 04 2019 at 06:01AM

Lol I love how this makes people not want to come to Australia. How ridiculous. Do you have any idea about your own country

Nith Rothana on May 04 2019 at 01:59AM

what the hell country. it will be worsen if they fell killing is legal. First they kill animal then people for sure. i used to like Australia but sorry Australian you are a cruel one in the world history.

Denzel S. Villamin on May 04 2019 at 12:41AM

Why settle in a short term solution (killing 2 milion feral cats)? when there is a HUMANE and much better solution?

Nicole Laliberté on May 03 2019 at 12:34PM

What a horrible situation! Won’t this bright idea also put at risk other species? Killing off birds that feed on meat for exemple? Well thought out ladies and gents! 😠

JenCatSmiles on May 03 2019 at 12:01AM

This is horrible. Poisoning cats is not the right answer! I agree above I will now NEVER visit this horrible country and will tell everyone I know the same!

Tami on May 02 2019 at 09:07PM

The culling and mass slaughter of innocent animals, feline or otherwise, is not the answer. The problem lies in the ignorance and irresponsibility of humans in not spaying or neutering their cats. Instead of taking the barbaric measure of poisoning these animals, among others, implement a TNR program to spay and neuter them. Implement low cost spay and neuter programs for pet owners so they can be more responsible. End the cycle of ignorance and inhumane treatment of animals by educating people about responsible pet ownership. Animals are a lifetime commitment — for the life of the animal. Community cats should be taken care of by the community if need be, not inhumanely slaughtered.

Kim on May 02 2019 at 06:50PM

No need to blame small creatures such as felines for the demise of the native species when we know for a fact that is humans themselves causing most of it and are usually the ones to put the final nail in the coffin.

If you want to hate, hate on humans. All cats need is proper TNR to get the populations under control. Anything other than this is abuse.

Holly on May 02 2019 at 06:44PM

Disgusted. Humans created the problem, but take it out on the cats and other animals that will die from eating their “solution” to their irresponsibility. Grow up Australia. Spay. Neuter. TNR.

Linda Shockley on May 02 2019 at 05:46PM

This dropping of poisonous sausages is not only Barbaric and Cruel but other animals will eat this crap too. And what about birds that will eat the carcasses of the poisoned cats? Many deaths will occur. There Has to be a better solution than mass murdering of innocent cats. Rats also will overcome the country of Australia. The Plague caused by rats is well documented.

Linda Shockley on May 02 2019 at 05:45PM

This dropping of poisonous sausages is not only Barbaric and Cruel but other animals will eat this crap too. And what about birds that will eat the carcasses of the poisoned cats? Many deaths will occur. There Has to be a better solution than mass murdering of innocent cats. Rats also will overcome the country of Australia. The Plague caused by rats is well documented.

Lisa on May 02 2019 at 05:21PM

TNR is slower but we Have an obligation to find a humane solution to a problem we created.

Greg on May 02 2019 at 05:08PM

We can’t keep human population in check yet we feel it necessary to govern animal populations. The Australian gov will regret their moves the moment less “invasive” species start eating these sausages since what is appealing to predatory cats is also appealing to all predators. Wait ’til a kid eats one. Sure that will merit a response (not from me as I feel humans self righteous entitlement is far from deserved).

Evelyn Rivas on May 02 2019 at 04:59PM

This is the most inhumane way of slowing the feral population. TNR does work and ut has been proven over and over.

Eva sacharczuk on May 02 2019 at 04:58PM

Disgusting. I will never visit Australia. Horrified.

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