A global review of the impacts of invasive cats on island endangered vertebrates


Correspondence: Félix M. Medina, tel. + 34 922 423100 (ext. 6824), fax + 34 922 420145, e-mail:


Cats are generalist predators that have been widely introduced to the world's ~179 000 islands. Once introduced to islands, cats prey on a variety of native species many of which lack evolved defenses against mammalian predators and can suffer severe population declines and even extinction. As islands house a disproportionate share of terrestrial biodiversity, the impacts of invasive cats on islands may have significant biodiversity impacts. Much of this threatened biodiversity can be protected by eradicating cats from islands. Information on the relative impacts of cats on different native species in different types of island ecosystems can increase the efficiency of this conservation tool. We reviewed feral cat impacts on native island vertebrates. Impacts of feral cats on vertebrates have been reported from at least 120 different islands on at least 175 vertebrates (25 reptiles, 123 birds, and 27 mammals), many of which are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A meta-analysis suggests that cat impacts were greatest on endemic species, particularly mammals and greater when non-native prey species were also introduced. Feral cats on islands are responsible for at least 14% global bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions and are the principal threat to almost 8% of critically endangered birds, mammals, and reptiles.