The history of cats in Australia

To: Ian May <>
Subject: The history of cats in Australia
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2013 22:18:23 +1100
The Makassarese most likely introduced the Dingo to Australia, so it is not 
hard to imagine them introducing cats.

Does anyone know if feral cats in this region have a preponderance for bob or 
deformed tails? SE Asian "feral" cat carry a bob-tail gene. A higher incidence 
of "bob-tails" amongst the ferals in areas of the North where Makassarese 
fishermen may have visited.


Carl Clifford

On 08/01/2013, at 21:52, Ian May <> wrote:

> g'Day all
> Having spent a considerable amount of time in the Kimberley and Gulf of 
> Carpentaria since the early 1970s, it has always struck me as interesting to 
> observe the more uniform consistently smaller tabby appearance of many feral 
> cats seen north of the tropic of Capricorn, compared to the generally larger 
> and diverse coloured animals seen in southern areas such as Simpson and 
> Strzelecki deserts.  These northern cats appear to have the consistent 
> appearance of a wild species compared to the mixed up look of domestic 
> animals typically gone wild.
> I once read a paper suggesting there was a close DNA link between Kimberley 
> feral cats and those found in Sulawesi Indonesia and suggesting cats were in 
> Australia long before the First Fleet. It was implied that Macassan traders 
> who sought trepang (sea cucumbers) off Australia's northern coast some 500 
> years before the First Fleet had brought cats here.
> It may not be a popular theory that cats have been on mainland Australia for 
> many hundreds of years.   However it is probably true and irrespective of the 
> fact that they take native prey, the major ecological impacts have probably 
> long passed.
> I can't remember the paper with certainty but I have seen a reference that I 
> think was it.
> Baldwin JA (1980) The domestic cat, Felis catus L. in the Pacific Islands. 
> Carnivore Genetics Newsletter 4, 57-66.
> I would be interested in a copy of the paper if anyone has access to it.
> Regards
> Ian May
> In  smoky St Helens, Tasmania
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