Feral cats

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Feral cats

Cats were brought to New Zealand in the ships of early European explorers, from 1769 onwards. They were kept on the ships to control the rats. Despite their early introduction into New Zealand, cats did not become feral here until at least 50 years later. Cats predate on possums, rodents, rabbits, birds and reptiles. They also feed on invertebrates to a lesser extent. Native and introduced birds form a large part of their diet.

Feral cats exist in both the North and South Islands and on Stewart Island. Population levels vary from low to high depending on the food source. In Marlborough, the feral cat population is moderate to high throughout the region.

Management of feral cats will likely occur as part of predator management at a high value site to protect biodiversity. This could be carried out by private landowners, or the Department of Conservation.