Acta Theriologica

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 157–169

The diet of the feral cat (Felis catus) in north-eastern Australia

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s13364-010-0016-7

Cite this article as:
Kutt, A.S. Acta Theriol (2011) 56: 157. doi:10.1007/s13364-010-0016-7

Abstract

The domestic cat Felis catus has become a feral predator and conservation threat in many regions of the world. In the northern tropical savannas of Australia, there is limited data on feral cat diet, and there is evidence that some mammal populations in this region are starting to show signs of significant population decline. A total of 169 cat stomach samples were collected from north-eastern Australia from 1996 to 1998. Samples were collected from grassland and woodland habitats in winter and summer periods. A total of 106 unique prey types (grouped into 59 categories), representing 974 items, were recorded from all samples of which 8% were invertebrates, 9% amphibians, 41% reptiles, 20% birds, and 22% mammals. Relative significance of prey items was examined by calculating the Index of Relative Importance. Chi-square comparisons of frequency differences among habitat, season, and sex of cat were also undertaken. The most important prey items were grasshoppers (Orthoptera), centipedes (Chiloptera), dunnarts (Sminthopsis spp.), planigales (Planigale spp.), rabbits, quails (Turnix spp., Coturnix sp.), and geckos (Oedura spp., Gehyra spp.). Amphibians and invertebrates were more frequent in summer (wet season) samples, and mammals were more frequent in winter. Similarly, there were more amphibians in woodland samples and more invertebrates in grasslands. There was high dietary overlap and little difference in the diet of male versus female cats. Increasing cat predation in northern Australia may significantly affect the conservation of key groups already under decline (e.g., mammals) and careful innovative solutions to stem cat predation are needed.

Keywords

FeralPredatorsCarnivoresTropical savannaMammalsBirdsConservation

Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical and Arid Systems, PMB POAitkenvaleAustralia