Hunting Feral Cats in Victoria
Cats have been in Australia since as early as the European settlement, and people believe they arrived with Dutch shipwrecks in the 17th century. By the early 1850s, feral cat colonies had become established in the wild and the Feral cat was born. Intentional releases were made in the late 1800s to hopefully control rabbits, rats and mice. According to many Feral Cats have caused the extinction of many species on islands and is thought to have contributed largely to the disappearance of many ground dwelling birds and mammals. Management of feral cats is difficult due to the lack of effective and humane broad scale control techniques and the presence of domestic cats. Feral cats are normally a cat that has been lost and left to fend for itself or a cat that were let free and then there litter which is born wild.
On most private properties now in Victoria you are more than likely to encounter a feral cat or two. They don’t behave to different than a regular house cat besides the fact they have adapted into the wild and act accordingly when it comes to hunting, stalking and there way of living. If you do get close enough to them they will Hiss and growl as a self defense mechanism and depending on your size and if it is a female feral cat and its litter is nearby it may even try to attack but this is very unlikely. They do grow large and some have been seen to weigh up to and over 15kg . Feral cats to tend to form colonies around a food source, there diet can consist of anything you might find eatable in the rubbish, small mammals such as mice, rats, voles and also shrews. They would not hesitate to eat small reptiles and any kind of ground dwelling bird that they can get there paws on. A female Feral cat can have up to 18 kittens a year so normally where there is one they may be many around the nearest consistent food source but they do tend to hunt alone.
Vision: A Feral cats vision is best at night but to our advantage they can not see bright lights as good as everyone thinks. They have a visual field of view of about 200 degrees with a binocular field which is an overlap in the images from each eye which is largely dependent upon the feral cats placement of the eyes, unlike us humans who have 180 degrees field of view.
Hearing: The Feral cat have a similar range of hearing in the low end of the scale to us humans, but they can hear much higher pitched sounds of up to 64 KHz which is close to 1.6 octaves above the range of a human. A Feral cats ear flaps pinpoint the source of a sound by independently point backwards, forwards and sideways.
Smell: A Feral cats sense of smell is up to 14 times better than that of a human because of there nose having twice as many smell-sensitive cells as humans.
Feral cats can live in Towns and Ural areas. In Ural areas they tend to form colonies where they have a constant source of food and shelter. An old barn that holds mice and rats would be a perfect place for a Feral cat and there Colonies to live. They can also take shelter in a dense bush area which will give them cover from the animals that pray on them, foxes, dogs etc.
When to find feral cats
Feral cats are most of the time trying to find food this being the reason why some can grow so large. During the day you may be lucky enough to see one roaming around for food but most likely they will see you before you see them and disappear. Spotlighting is a very common way to hunt Feral Cats. Due to the cat having many predators it does seem to be more active at night. Using a Fox whistle will attract a feral cat, Some also flush out Feral cats with dogs etc.
Feral cats do not require a large caliber to be killed. Commons calibers to kill a feral fox consist of a .22 rimfire, .22 Magnum rimfire or a .17HMR. These Calibers can be accurate and very effective up to 100m. Due to the cunningness of Feral cats many hunters prefer a flatter trajectory with higher projectile energy to be able to kill feral cats at greater ranges. For example using a 22-250 , 223 would be ideal for these greater distances. Shotguns can also be used to kill Feral cats at a closer range, a 12-gauge or a 410 would be perfect for a close range of up to 40metres
Accessories & Extras
Clothing: A very basic camouflage clothing set up for Hunting Feral cats its more than fine. No special colors are needed and majority of the time you will hunting them at night so any plain colors with no reflective patterns or materials on them would be ideal.
Feral Cat caller : Feral cats will react to the same whistle as a fox. The sound of a Rabbit in distress means food for them and they will take the bait.
Dog: The main aim of bringing a dog when hunting Feral cats is to flush them out of there hiding spots to an awaiting bullet. A very common dog people use to do this is a Jack Russel or a dog of the same size and speed.
Due to the small size of these animal and the fact that we do not need to shoot with saving the meat in mind any kind of body shot will be ok and of course head shots are always preferred. Keep in mind that most of the time they will ge hit and drop but if a shot was to graze the Feral cat it may run for another 10 metres and could be hard to find especially when spotlighting and know for sure if you did get the kill.
Hunting Victoria’s tips and tricks
-We use laser pointers when hunting for Feral cats and it works a treat when the Spot lights on them for accuracy.
-Always check up trees for feral cats as they love to climb the trees to get out of harms way.