It is evident that there are some massive feral cats out in our Wheatbelt, particularly in the shire of Koorda. A little over a week ago, an 11.5kg feral cat was captured by John and Madeline Hayles, who are working with Wheatbelt NRM to implement a feral control and revegetation management plan. It was around this time last year, that they captured a male feral cat weighing in at a whopping 13 kg. The sheer size of these cats is difficult for some of us to imagine, bearing in mind, that the average cat weighs only 4 to 6 kgs.
Feral cats in Australia, which were introduced by the first European settlers and established in the wild by the 1850s, continue to be a huge threat to native wildlife. In fact, they play a large part in the extinction of several species unique to our country.
Scientists estimate that Australia is home to between 5 and 20 million feral cats, and that they kill an average of five animals — bugs, lizards, small mammals and birds, and so on — each night. Feral cats are preying on some of our most at risk species, but they can also cause harm through disease transmission and competition with natives for habitat and food.
However, no one can accurately estimate the number of feral cats, because the numbers fluctuate considerably with climate and the availability of prey. As an example, cat numbers can increase significantly within a few months, during or after a rat, rabbit or mouse plague.
An average feral cat requires about 300 grams of prey per day. If they eat a small marsupial with an average weight of 40 grams, then they would need to consume about eight of them per day. If the cat is eating larger marsupials, with an average of 140 grams, then they would require about two.