What effect does diet have on body condition of unowned cats in the Southern Downs Region, Queensland?

Leis, Lupesina (2021) What effect does diet have on body condition of unowned cats in the Southern Downs Region, Queensland? Honours thesis, University of Southern Queensland. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Cats (Felis catus) have inhabited Australia since at least European colonisation and their negative impacts have been well documented in the literature.

Since free-roaming, unowned populations established across the continent and on many territorial islands, cats have been responsible for native small mammal declines and extinctions. In the temperate climate zone of south-east Queensland, currently no data exists on unowned cat diet. In the Southern Downs Region, unowned cats cost the local council in excess of $80,000 per year to manage. Furthermore, their impacts on small native animals are unknown.

Understanding unowned cat diet in the region is integral to determining the impacts they are having in addition to informing local cat management strategies. Body condition in unowned cats, which may be a function of cat diet, can also provide information on the overall health of the population.

The general aim of this project was to determine the effect diet has on body condition in unowned cats in the Southern Downs Region. It was hypothesised that cats that predominately consumed small mammals would be in better or ideal body condition. Further aims of this study were to determine the overall diet composition and body condition of unowned cats in the Southern Downs Region, Queensland. Unpublished data on unowned cats from Davenport Downs Station in an arid area of western Queensland was used to compare and contrast the results from the Southern Downs Region.

The study was conducted during autumn and winter in 2021. Stomach and faecal samples were used to conduct dietary analyses. Morphometric versus weight regressions, body condition score, and kidney fat index were used to assess body condition.

Commercial cat food and mammals, likely to be carrion, comprised the majority of the diet in Southern Downs Region cats. Mammals dominated the diet of cats at Davenport Downs Station. The majority of cats from both study sites were in ideal body condition, and there was no strong relationship between body condition and diet of unowned cats.

Future studies would benefit from including a larger sample size of adult unowned cats and movement data of those sampled as these were identified as limitations during this study.


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Item Type: Thesis (Non-Research) (Honours)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Science (Honours) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Sciences (6 Sep 2019 - 31 Dec 2021)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (1 Aug 2018 -)
Supervisors: Allen, Benjamin
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2021 23:14
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 23:14
Uncontrolled Keywords: feral cats; diet
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050103 Invasive Species Ecology
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410202 Biosecurity science and invasive species ecology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180602 Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/46085

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