The Government fully supports  the Inquiry’s recommendation to declare feral cats as an established pest animal in Victoria on public land under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

As distinct from domestic cats, feral cats generally live completely independent of humans with respect to food, shelter and without veterinary care. Feral cats survive and reproduce in self-perpetuating populations in the wild.

Feral cats are a serious threat to Victoria’s biodiversity and threatened wildlife, both through predation and through the transmission of diseases such as toxoplasmosis. Feral cats are the main threat to the persistence of threatened fauna in Australia as evidenced by its listing as a potentially threatening process under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. In fact, 43 of the State’s threatened species are directly at risk from feral cats.

It is proposed that feral cats be declared as established pest animals on public land only. The declaration will not affect private land, nor place a control obligation on farmers or private landholders.

Feral cats are widespread in Victoria, and the declaration of feral cats as pest animals on public land will help public land managers humanely, effectively and efficiently reduce the impact of feral cats in areas where key biodiversity values are at risk.

The Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) will consult and seek input from stakeholders and the community as part of the declaration process. This consultation will inform the design of the declaration and feral cat management approaches, and will ensure that all views are considered and any concerns addressed.

Consultation as the first part of the declaration process is due to begin in early 2018, with the aim to declare feral cats as an established pest animal in Victoria by mid to late 2018.

More information on how you can participate in the review will be available shortly.

Questions and Answers

Recommendation 9 requires that the Government declare feral or wild cats to be ‘established pest animals’ under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, mirroring the way wild dogs are classified.

The Government fully supports the declaration of feral cats as an established pest animal under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, on public land in Victoria, to help public land managers to humanely, effectively and efficiently reduce the impact of feral cats in areas where key biodiversity values are at risk.

Feral cats are the main threat to the persistence of threatened fauna in Australia. The declaration of the feral cat as an established pest animal is part of a national commitment to the control of feral cats, and a very important milestone in the protection of Victoria’s threatened wildlife. The declaration of feral cats as a pest animal is a new policy position for Victoria.

Feral cats are wide-spread and can be found in large numbers right across Victoria. They have a significant impact on the state’s biodiversity and threatened wildlife through direct predation, and through the spread of diseases such as toxoplasmosis.

Feral cats kill more than one million birds every day across Australia.

It is estimated that 75 million native animals are killed daily in Australia by feral cats.

In Victoria, there are43 Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 listed threatened species are at increased risk of extinction from feral cats, including the critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeater, Mountain-pygmy possum, Orange-bellied parrot and Plains Wanderer.

The declaration of feral cats as established pest animals in Victoria brings the status of feral cats in line with other widespread pest species, such as wild rabbits, hares, foxes and wild dogs.

This simply means that feral cats should be recognised as pest animals in Victoria, just as wild dogs are recognised as pest animals. It does not mean that the design (or wording) of the feral cat declaration needs to be the same as the design of the declaration for wild dogs.

For example, wild dogs are declared as established pest animals on all land tenures in Victoria. It is proposed that feral cats only be declared as established pest animals on public land in Victoria.

No. It is proposed that feral cats will be declared as established pests on public land only. The declaration will not affect private land, nor place a control obligation or burden on farmers or private landholders.

Feral cats are regarded in a policy sense as distinctly different from domestic cats. The government recognises that domestic cats are important companion animals for many Victorians and that responsible cat ownership brings many benefits.

In contrast, feral cats generally live completely independent of humans with respect to food, shelter and without veterinary care. Feral cats survive and reproduce in self-perpetuating populations in the wild.

It is highly unlikely your pet cat will be affected; however, you can optimise your pet’s welfare by practicing responsible pet ownership. Responsible pet ownership includes caring for your pet's welfare needs, registration, microchipping and complying with local requirements for keeping cats on your property where applicable.

The Government will work closely with animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA and consult and seek input with the Victorian community to inform the design of the feral cat declaration and feral cat management approaches. This consultation will help ensure that animal welfare objectives are met.

The declaration process

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will consult and seek input from stakeholders and the community as part of the declaration process. In addition, stakeholder engagement will be integral to the implementation of control programs for feral cats on public land.

Consultation with stakeholders and the community will inform the design of the declaration and feral cat management approaches, and will help ensure that animal welfare objectives are met and responsible cat ownership remains respected and enshrined as a fundamental right for all Victorians.

Consultation as the first part of the declaration process is due to begin in early 2018, with the aim to declare feral cats as an established pest animal in Victoria by mid to late 2018.

Information on how you can get engaged and provide input into the feral cat declaration process will be available on the DELWP website.