Study to shine a light on nocturnal habits of feral cats

Hawkesbury campus sign

The secret life of feral cats in the Hawkesbury will be revealed when a University of Western Sydney PhD candidate begins a catch and release program in late April.

Wire cage traps will be set and checked each night on the UWS Hawkesbury campus for two weeks from 28 April to 9 May.
Jess Dormer, from the UWS School of Science and Health, will investigate the factors that contribute to and sustain feral cat populations.
"Collecting data on the number of feral cats, their genetic heritage and health status will help build a clearer picture of the feral cat population in the Hawkesbury," says Ms Dormer, a PhD candidate under the supervision of feral animal expert and UWS researcher, Dr Ricky Spencer.
"Understanding the movement of feral cats in the region and their reproductive cycles will enable more effective control measures and better protection for native fauna," says Ms Dormer.
All cats will be checked for an identification microchip.  Any cats that are pets will be released immediately and excluded from the study.
Cats without identification and that appear un-owned will be sedated and some data will be collected, including weight, sex, reproduction status, coat colour and parasite load. 
All cats trapped, including feral cats, will be released unharmed close to where they were caught.
Some cats may also be fitted with a radio collar to track roaming behaviour and home range. 
All pet owners living near the UWS Hawkesbury campus are asked to keep their cats inside or in a secure location each night during the study to minimise the risk of pet cats being caught in the traps.

"There is no risk of harm to cats caught in the cage traps and all cats will be released," says Ms Dormer.

"All cat owners are encouraged to check their cats are microchipped and registered which is not only a legal requirement in NSW, but helps ensure lost pets can be easily and quickly reunited with their owners."

Local cats owners seeking more information on the study are encouraged to contact the study team on 02 4570 1414 or

University of Western Sydney Animal Care and Ethics Committee Registration Number A10294. 


11 April 2014

Photo: Sally Tsoutas 

Media contact: Paul Grocott, Senior Media Officer

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