Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 581–603 | Cite as

The diet of feral cats on islands: a review and a call for more studies

  • E. BonnaudEmail author
  • F. M. Medina
  • E. Vidal
  • M. Nogales
  • B. Tershy
  • E. Zavaleta
  • C. J. Donlan
  • B. Keitt
  • M. Le Corre
  • S. V. Horwath
Original Paper


Cats are among the most successful and damaging invaders on islands and a significant driver of extinction and endangerment. Better understanding of their ecology can improve effective management actions such as eradication. We reviewed 72 studies of insular feral cat diet from 40 islands worldwide. Cats fed on a wide range of species from large birds and medium sized mammals to small insects with at least 248 species consumed (27 mammals, 113 birds, 34 reptiles, 3 amphibians, 2 fish and 69 invertebrates). Three mammals, 29 birds and 3 reptiles recorded in the diet of cats are listed as threatened by the IUCN. However, a few species of introduced mammals were the most frequent prey, and on almost all islands mammals and birds contributed most of the daily food intake. Latitude was positively correlated with the predation of rabbits and negatively with the predation of reptiles and invertebrates. Distance from landmass was positively correlated with predation on birds and negatively correlated with the predation of reptiles. The broad range of taxa consumed by feral cats on islands suggests that they have the potential to impact almost any native species, even the smallest ones under several grams, that lack behavioral, morphological or life history adaptations to mammalian predators. Insular feral cat’s reliance on introduced mammals, which evolved with cat predation, suggests that on many islands, populations of native species have already been reduced.


Domestic cat Felis catus Feeding behaviour Food web Island ecosystem Conservation 



This contribution is dedicated to all persons who have provided information on the diet of feral cat in all islands worldwide. We are very grateful to F. Torre, P. Campagne and K. Bourgeois for helping with statistical analyses and special thanks for S. Fadda. We would like to thanks M. Fitzgerald and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. This work has received support from the European Union and the DIREN PACA via a Life Nature project (ref. LIFE03NAT/F000105), the French National Research Agency (ALIENS project), the MEDAD (Ecotropic programme), the project CGL-2004-0161 BOS co-financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education and the European Union, and a CR PACA PhD fellowship to EB.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Bonnaud
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • F. M. Medina
    • 3
  • E. Vidal
    • 1
  • M. Nogales
    • 4
  • B. Tershy
    • 5
  • E. Zavaleta
    • 6
  • C. J. Donlan
    • 7
    • 8
  • B. Keitt
    • 9
  • M. Le Corre
    • 10
  • S. V. Horwath
    • 9
  1. 1.Mediterranean Institute for Ecology and Palaeoecology (UMR CNRS/IRD)Aix-Marseille University (Université P. Cezanne)Aix-en-Provence cedex 04France
  2. 2.Ecology Systematic and Evolution, UMR CNRS 8079, Paris Sud UniversityORSAY CedexFrance
  3. 3.Consejería de Medio AmbienteCabildo Insular de La PalmaSanta Cruz de La PalmaSpain
  4. 4.Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC)TenerifeSpain
  5. 5.Ecology & Evolutionary Biology DepartmentUniversity of California, Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA
  6. 6.Environmental Studies DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA
  7. 7.Advanced Conservation StrategiesDriggsUSA
  8. 8.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyCornell UniversityMidwayUSA
  9. 9.Island Conservation, Long Marine LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzU.S.A
  10. 10.Lab ECOMAR, Université de La RéunionSaint DenisLa RéunionFrance

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