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“Curiosity” could be the downfall of feral cats

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Healthy Environments

In exciting news for the battle to control feral cats in WA a new bait has been approved for use by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

The Curiosity® bait for feral cats comprises a small sausage containing a hard plastic pellet encapsulating the toxin para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP). The bait has been designed to minimise the risk to any Australian native animals that might be attracted to a sausage.

The Curiosity® bait for feral cats has been a long-term $5.1 million project to develop a humane, broad-scale toxic bait to control feral cats in conservation areas.

The bait comprises a small meat-based sausage containing a small hard plastic pellet encapsulating a humane toxin. Cats do not have molar teeth and tend to chew their food less so they may swallow portions of the sausage including the pellet. Most Australian native animals nibble and chew their food and are likely to reject the pellet. The pellet is designed to dissolve in the cat’s stomach and deliver a rapid dose of the toxin.

The Curiosity® bait for feral cats uses a new humane toxin called para-aminopropiophenone, or PAPP, which is considered best-practice world-wide.

PAPP converts the animal’s red blood cells to a form that cannot carry oxygen, causing death through oxygen starvation to the brain and other vital organs. It is considered to be humane and death takes minutes to hours. The RSPCA have indicated that PAPP is a clear improvement in humaneness over previous toxins. The mode of action means that secondary poisoning of any other animals from consuming a carcass of a cat that ate a Curiosity® bait containing PAPP is much less likely than when using previously employed toxins.

The aim is to have bait available in small volumes in February 2020 to assist with bushfire recovery efforts with larger columns available in winter 2020.

Interior of a Curiosity bait showing a toxic pellet

The Curiosity plastic pellet

Further information on feral cats is available at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive-species/feral-animals-australia/feral-cats.

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