Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Red ginger tabby cat sitting balanced on a wooden fence looking up at something that got its attention.

Australia’s 3.9 million pet cats kill roughly 180 million mammals a year, and feral cats’ toll is even higher. Credit: Chris Mirek Freeman/Alamy


Australia’s feral cats kill more than 800 million mammals every year

Pet cats tend to kill non-native species, but feral felines slay more than 400 million native mammals annually.

Millions of feral cats roam Australia, where they grow fat and sleek on a diet that includes large helpings of native mammals. Now, Brett Murphy at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia, and a large cast of co-authors have combined estimates of cat prevalence with surveys of mammalian remains in cat poo and stomachs to estimate the total number of their prey.

According to the scientists’ data, feral cats living in natural landscapes kill 815 million mammals each year, of which 56% are native species. These numbers are considerably larger than the at least 2.1 million native mammals killed by land clearing each year.

The researchers note that pet cats, even those that are amply provided for at home, still kill large numbers of mammals — about 180 million annually. These are predominately non-native species found in urban and suburban areas.

A higher proportion of native-mammal remains was found in cat scats from northern Australia than in poos from the more urbanized south, where native creatures have fared poorly.

More Research Highlights...

Camera-trap image of Dendrohyrax interfluvialis

Some tree hyraxes scream in the night, but the newly identified Dendrohyrax interfluvialis (above, camera-trap image) utters a complex series of squawks, rattles and barks. Credit: J. F. Oates et al./Zool. J. Linn. Soc.


A bark in the dark reveals a hidden hyrax

Its neighbours scream, but a new species of tree hyrax — a cousin of the elephant — unleashes a rattling bark.
Plastic and other debris floats underwater in blue water

Plastic detritus from snacks and meals floats in the Red Sea. Marine sampling shows that food waste accounts for nearly 90% of plastic pollution at some locales. Credit: Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Media/Getty

Ocean sciences

Humanity’s fast-food habit is filling the ocean with plastic

Food bags, drink bottles and similar items account for the biggest share of plastic waste near the shore.
Conceptual artwork of a pair of entangled quantum particles.

An artist’s impression of ‘entangled’ particles, which share properties even at a distance. Entangled photons can be used to help secure a multi-party video meeting. Credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library

Quantum information

Quantum keys dial up tamper-proof conference calls

A new experiment efficiently distributes the highly secure keys to four parties instead of the typical two.
Farmers harvest pineapples in a field.

Workers harvest pineapples in Lingao County, China. Less than one-third of the money spent on food eaten at home reaches farmers. Credit: Yuan Chen/VCG/Getty


Poor harvest: farmers earn a pitiful fraction of the money spent on food

The bulk of consumer food spending around the world ends up in the coffers of distributors, processors and other parties beyond the farm gate.
A woman wearing a protective face mask splashes her hands in a jet of water

A pedestrian seeks relief from searing temperatures in Spain, where a high proportion of heat-related deaths have been linked to climate change. Credit: SALAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Climate change

More than one-third of heat deaths blamed on climate change

Warming resulting from human activities accounts for a high percentage of heat-related deaths, especially in southern Asia and South America.
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links