On 26 July 2018, the feral or wild population of the cat (Felis catus) (feral cat) was declared an established pest animal on specified Crown land in Victoria under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

The declaration applies to areas of Crown land managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Park and the four Alpine Resort Management Boards. It is important that the feral cat declaration only applies to areas of Crown Land where feral cat management is of high priority for the protection of biodiversity and minimises the risk to free-roaming domestic cats.

Feral cat control will be implemented by department and agency staff, and their agents, ensuring efforts are targeted to protect the threatened wildlife most at risk of predation by feral cats.

Feral Cats

Photo credit: Helen Achurch, supplied by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions

Feral cats have not been declared an established pest on private land, meaning farmers and other private landholders will not be required to control feral cats. Permission to hunt on Crown land does not extend to feral cats, unless conducted by accredited volunteer shooters engaged to participate in control programs managed by Parks Victoria or DELWP.

Feral cat control will be implemented in accordance with a Victorian Feral Cat Management Code of Practice. The Code will guide the development of best practice humane, efficient and effective feral cat management practices and promote animal welfare and the safety of free-roaming domestic cats.

Feral cats have a major impact on Victoria’s biodiversity and are one of the most significant threats to our native wildlife. The declaration is an important milestone in protecting them.

You can find out more in the information sheets below.

Consultation on the declaration

A consultation process was conducted from 30 April 2018 through to 20 May 2018 on the proposed feral cat declaration, to make sure the community’s views were heard and understood.

The purpose of the consultation was to understand community and stakeholder views on the proposed feral cat declaration, and what the declaration may mean to individuals or the organisations they represent. Over 1,000 submissions were received, with more than 75% of survey respondents supporting the declaration of feral cats as pests.

The consultation helped shape the feral cat declaration, leading to the inclusion of the Phillip Island Nature Park and Alpine Resorts in the specified areas of Crown land.

You can view the consultation summary below.

Consultation Summary (PDF, 619.1 KB)

A Great Start

Declaring the feral cat as an established pest animal and removing any unnecessary legal barriers to Crown land managers undertaking humane, effective and efficient feral cat control to protect our precious biodiversity is a great start, but is just one piece of the puzzle. To effectively manage the impact of feral cats and give our threatened wildlife the best chance of survival, six key areas for action have been identified:

  • Leadership
  • Legislative Reform
  • Effective Management
  • Informed Decision-Making
  • Improved Knowledge
  • Community Support

View the Framework for Effective Action (PDF, 33.7 KB).

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 semi-owned cats which partly rely on humans for food and shelter (whether it is provided intentionally or not).

Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, (CaLP Act) an animal may be declared an established pest animal if it is introduced into Victoria, established in the wild and is a serious threat to primary production, Crown land (public land), the environment or community health in Victoria, and it should be eradicated or controlled or its spread in the wild should be prevented.

Under the CaLP Act, land owners must take all reasonable steps to control the spread of, and as far as possible, eradicate established pest animals. Given that the eradication of established pest animals, such as the feral cat, is not achievable, the most effective approach is to direct effort to the protection of the highest at-risk values. The DELWP Strategic Management Prospects (SMP) tool has helped to identify the areas of Crown land where feral cat control will provide the greatest biodiversity cost-benefit. Further information on SMP can be found on the DELWP website.

The Victorian Government recognises that domestic cats are important companion animals for many Victorians and that responsible cat ownership brings many benefits.

Domestic cats are free to roam outside their owner's property in many areas of Victoria, unless there is a municipal bi-law relating to the confinement of domestic cats.

It is highly unlikely that owned cat will be affected by strategic feral cat management on specified Crown land, however, you can improve your pet’s welfare by practising responsible pet ownership. Further information on your cat’s needs and how to ensure they are safely confined can be found at www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/cats

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 www.safecat.org.au for more information about this campaign.

A Victorian Feral Cat Management Code of Practice will be developed in consultation with animal welfare organisations, including Animal Welfare Victoria and the RSPCA (Victoria). It will guide the development of best practice, humane, effective and efficient feral cat management practices. The Code of Practice will recognise free-roaming domestic cats, ensuring any risk to domestic cats is minimised. The welfare of non-target native species, that is reducing the impact on non-target wildlife from the control of feral cats, will also be prioritised in the Code of Practice.

All Crown land managers undertaking feral cat control will be required to abide by the Code of Practice. Until the Code of Practice is developed, feral cat control operations in Victoria will be consistent, where applicable, with the National Model Code of Practice for the Humane Control of Feral Cats. The National Code can be found at www.pestsmart.org.au/model-code-of-practice-for-the-humane-control-of-feral-cats/

Permission to hunt on Crown land does not extend to feral cats, unless conducted by accredited volunteer shooters engaged to participate in control programs managed by DELWP or Parks Victoria.

More information

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