This article reviews the biology, ecological effects, and management of the domestic cat (Felis catus) in the Pacific basin. The cat is one of the most controversial invasive species in the Pacific region because of its complex relations with humans. At one extreme, well-fed domestic house pets are allowed outdoors where they may hunt native animals; at the other, unsocialized feral cats have replaced native predators as apex predators or occupy a new niche on oceanic islands, where they have devastated native faunas. In the middle are stray cats that are still socialized around humans. Feral and stray cats can be reservoirs of diseases that infect free-roaming domestic cats, humans, and wildlife. Given these problems, the best response would be to keep domestic cats indoors, restrict cat breeding, and remove feral populations. However, most Pacific basin societies have failed to reach a consensus on the cat problem, so solutions are ad hoc, often lacking in any scientific basis, and reflect our conflicting views. Compromise management might best fall into three broad classes: (1) eradication of cats should be confined to islands and other areas of high native biodiversity where reintroduction can be prevented; (2) in a landscape of low or moderate biological value, efforts should be made to educate the public to reduce the impact of their cats on remaining wildlife, while excluding cats from “islands” of elevated biodiversity values or human sensitivity; (3) in drastically simplified urban ecosystems, management perhaps should occur only in response to local complaints.
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Vol. 66 • No. 2