New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1991) 15(2): 123- 129

The Diet of Feral Cats (Felis catus) on Raoul Island, Kermadec Group

Research Article
B. M. Fitzgerald 1
B. J. Karl 2
C. R. Veitch 3
  1. DSIR Land Resources, Private Bag, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  2. DSIR Land Resources, Private Bag, Nelson, New Zealand
  3. Department of Conservation, Private Bag 8, Newton, Auckland, New Zealand

Feral cats became established on Raoul Island some time between 1836 and 1872; the prey available to them included a great variety of nesting seabirds, few of which are present now, landbirds and kiore (Rattus exulans). Norway rats reached the island in 1921, providing additional prey for cats, but also another potential predator of seabirds. The diet of cats is described from guts and scats collected between 1972 and 1980. Rats are the main food, with land birds second in importance, and seabirds are now a minor item. More than 90% of the rats eaten by cats are kiore although more Norway rats than kiore are trapped. Eradicating cats from Raoul Island is feasible but because Norway rats too are important predators of birds on islands, it is likely that eradicating cats without also eradicating Norway rats will do little to restore the diversity of bird species on Raoul Island, although the densities of a few species now present might be increased.