Objectives To calculate the proportion of house cats which were observed by their owners to have caught prey and to describe the characteristics of these cats.
Design and procedure A telephone questionnaire was administered to a randomly selected population of 458 cat owners in metropolitan Perth. Specific questions were asked about demographic characteristics, habits and diets of the cats, and whether the owners had observed their cats catch prey in the 12 month period preceding the survey.
Results The owners of 36% of 644 cats had observed their cats with prey in the 12 month period preceding the survey. Cats which spent more time outside, were neutered, cross-bred, originated from households with only one or two cats or were not fed meat were significantly more likely to be observed to predate. The body condition and diet (other than feeding meat) of cats did not influence the reported frequency of predation.
Conclusion Although cats are only one factor involved in the reduction in the numbers and diversity of Australian wildlife, restriction of the outside activities of cats is likely to diminish predation, particularly in areas close to native vegetation.