Feral cats now cover over 99.8 per cent of Australia’s land area. That’s more of Australia than is covered by internet access.
Visualize one cat for every 1.5 square miles or one cat for every four square kilometers.
“At the moment feral cats are undermining the efforts of conservation managers and threatened species recovery teams across Australia,” said research study author Sarah Legge, Ph.D.
These furry little criminals came to Australia in the 19th century by way of convict ships from Europe. That makes Oz the only continent on Earth (other than Antarctica) where the animals evolved without cats. This is why they pose such a massive threat to native wildlife.
So far, feral cats have caused the extinction of at least 20 Australian mammals. A cat named Tibbles was responsible for “single-pawedly” sending New Zealand’s Stephens Island wren into extinction in the late 1890s.
One of the strategies being discussed is to release the dingos! Researchers believe that having more wild dogs will not only deter feral cats but also prey on a different, larger species than the cats, giving smaller, more vulnerable species a chance to restore their numbers.
Bomb the continent with catnip, you say? Won’t work on these guys – Australian cats are less susceptible to catnip.