Feral cats

Feral cats live independently of humans, and are widely distributed throughout Southland. On Stewart Island, feral cats are the only introduced predator and can have a major impact on native bird populations.

What is it?

Feral cats tend to avoid contact with people and are solitary, nocturnal hunters. They can be found in a wide range of habitats including sand dunes, pastures, scrubland and forests from sea level up to alpine areas.

What is the problem?

Feral cats impact the biodiversity of Southland by preying on native species of birds, reptiles and insects. The predation of native birds can reduce pollination of some native forest species and impact forest regeneration. Feral cats can also spread parasites and diseases including toxoplasmosis and tuberculosis.

How to control it

Control MethodExample
TrappingLive capture traps (cages and leghold traps), kill traps (timms trap).
ShootingFor rural landowners only a with firearms licence. Most effective at night using a .22 rifle or shotgun.

For more details on control methods, read the feral cats factsheet.


Feral cats are a suppression animal on mainland Southland. They are too well established to eradicate from the mainland and Stewart Island/Rakiura, so our aim is to suppress their numbers to minimise impacts on the community and the environment. Feral cats are an exclusion animal on all other offshore and inland islands.


Any public control of feral cats is voluntary. Cage traps should be used to capture feral cats if domestic cats are also on or near the property.

Page reviewed: 06 May 2016 4:21pm