Feral or wild populations of the cat (Felis catus) (feral cats) will be declared an established pest animal on public land in Victoria under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 in mid to late 2018.

This was recommended by the 2017 Parliamentary Inquiry into the control of invasive animals on Crown Land. It is part of a national commitment to managing feral cats. The declaration is an important milestone in protecting Victoria's biodiversity and threatened wildlife.

Feral cats have a major impact on Victoria’s biodiversity and are one of the most significant threats to our threatened wildlife. The survival in the wild of 43 listed threatened species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 is at direct risk from predation by feral cats.

Unless feral cats are strategically managed, critically-endangered native species such as the Mountain-pygmy Possum, Helmeted Honeyeater, Orange-bellied Parrot and Plains Wanderer may be pushed into extinction in the wild.

The declaration will require public land managers to control feral cats where key biodiversity values are at risk. It will only apply to specified public land being managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) or Parks Victoria. Only departmental and agency staff (and their agents) will be permitted to destroy a feral cat.

This will ensure the focus is on areas where feral cat management is a high priority for biodiversity protection, and won’t impose undue obligations on all public land managers or any sector of the public. The existing arrangements for cats will continue to apply in areas the feral cat declaration does not cover.

Feral cats will not be declared as a pest animal on private land. Farmers and other private landholders will not be required to control feral cats. The declaration will not affect local councils.

Animal welfare is a high priority for the Victorian Government. Responsible cat ownership has many benefits and domestic cats are valued pets for many Victorians. Animal welfare and the safety of free-roaming domestic cats will be prioritised through a feral cat management Code of Practice. This will include operational standards and guidelines that all government pest controllers and their agents must abide by.

You can find out more about the proposed declaration in the information sheets below.

Have your say

The community consultation period for the proposed declaration of feral cats as an established pest animal on specified public land in Victoria closed on 20 May 2018.

Thank you to everyone who provided input. Your feedback will help DELWP bring together the final declaration to help ensure that Victoria’s precious biodiversity and at-risk native wildlife are protected from the impact of feral cats.

A summary of feedback received will be prepared and made available on this website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Feral cats are feral or wild populations of the cat (Felis catus). Feral cats are unowned and live completely independently of humans with respect to food and shelter and without veterinary care. Feral cats survive and reproduce in self-perpetuating populations in the wild.

Feral cats are different to stray or unowned cats which partly rely on humans for food and shelter (whether it is provided intentionally or not).

Feral or wild populations of the cat (Felis catus) (feral cat) will be declared as an established pest animal on specified public land managed by Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Only departmental and agency staff (and their agents) will be permitted to destroy a feral cat.

Feral cats will not be declared as a pest animal on private land. Farmers and other private landholders will not be required to control feral cats.

Once the feral cat declaration is published in the Victorian Government Gazette, it will come into immediate effect.

This will ensure the feral cat declaration applies only to areas of public land where feral cat management is of high priority for the protection of biodiversity and threatened wildlife. This way, we can avoid imposing undue obligations on all public land managers and minimise the risk to domestic cats. Local government will not be affected by the feral cat declaration.

Yes. The existing arrangements for managing feral cats will continue to apply in areas the feral cat declaration does not cover. Such as there are various powers for landowners and land managers to seize (catch) a cat and take it to the local council.

The government recognises that domestic cats are important companion animals for many Victorians and that responsible cat ownership brings many benefits. Ownership of domestic cats is unaffected by the feral cat declaration.

It is highly unlikely your pet cat will be affected by feral cat control activities on public land; however, you can improve your pet’s welfare by practicing responsible pet ownership. Responsible pet ownership includes caring for your pet's welfare needs, registering and microchipping your pet and complying with any applicable local requirements for keeping cats on your property. Further information on your cat’s needs and how to ensure they are safely confined can be found on the Agriculture Victoria Website .

Zoos Victoria and the RSPCA Victoria’s ‘Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife’ campaign provides pet owners with advice and support to keep their cat in the home environment. Please visit the Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife website for more information about this campaign.

Strategic feral cat control programs on public land will be implemented to ensure strategies are in place to minimise the potential risk to free-roaming domestic cats.

Animal welfare is a high priority for the Victorian Government. The implementation of the feral cat declaration will be designed to minimise poor animal welfare outcomes. Animal welfare will be prioritised through a feral cat management Code of Practice that will include operational standards and guidelines that all government pest controllers and their agents must abide by.

The Government will work closely with animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA (Victoria) and seek input from the Victorian community to inform the design of feral cat management approaches. This consultation will help ensure that any adverse animal welfare issues are minimised.

More information

To stay up-to-date with feral cat management issues, please email biodiversity.regulation@delwp.vic.gov.au.