Feral Cat


General description

Look the same as domestic cats with the same colour variations although many are tabby coloured. They have sensitive hearing and excellent night vision. Mainly nocturnal, solitary, terrritorial with large home ranges. Don't like being approached.


• Unlike domestic cats that bury their scats, feral cats often deposit them in conspicuous places on tracks, or on clumps of grass. They tend to contain matted fur, feathers and bones (often dark in colour).
• Paw prints in sand or on soft ground.

Found in sand dunes, pasture, tussock, scrub, exotic plantations and native forest. Do not generally live around centres of human habitation. Widely distributed including offshore islands.

Breeding occurs over spring and summer with litters of 2-5 kittens. Kitten survival is low and life spans are short, usually half that of domestic cats. Kitterns disperse to their own teritories once weaned.

Feral cats eat a range of animals including rabbits, rats and mustelids, as well as native birds, lizards and invertebrates. Feral cats have contributed to the decline of many native species including many species of seabirds, fernbird, kakapo, bats and black stilt.

Site management

Recommended approaches

1. A cage trap is recommended in areas where there is any likelihood of catching domestic cats (so they can be returned to owners). Must be checked within 12 hours of sunrise.
2. Timms trap baited with meat.

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

RPMS status

Animal Pest - Whole Region
feral cat - Main species image