This Is What The Stomach Contents Of A Feral Cat Look Like

    There is a genuine catastrophe unfolding down under.

    The Australian government is pressing ahead with plans to cull two million feral cats despite opposition from some animal rights groups and celebrities like Brigitte Bardot and Morrissey.

    Federal environment minister Greg Hunt confirmed in July that the government would spend $6.6 million AUD creating "safe havens" for native animals by pushing back against Australia's feral cat population.

    No one knows exactly how many feral cats live in Australia, but the number is thought to be around 20 million.

    The program is designed to aid 20 mammal species, 20 bird species and up to 30 different types of plant which are now considered endangered.

    Among the animals set to benefit are bilbies in Queensland, central rock-rats in the Northern Territory, eastern barred bandicoots in Victoria, orange-bellied parrots in Tasmania, bettongs in the Australian Capital Territory, glossy black-cockatoos in South Australia, numbats in Western Australia and plains-wanderers in New South Wales.

    Feral cats are found around Australia. The same species as your regular domestic cat, feral cats survive by eating small animals. Because cats shy away from traps and don't take underground baits, they can be extremely difficult to control, meaning many of the cats to be culled will be shot from the air.

    To survive in the wild, feral cats need a lot of protein, meaning they can eat up to 20 small animals - mammals, birds and reptiles - in a day. Below is an image of the stomach contents from several feral cats.

    Researchers earlier this year found the remains of 157 types of reptiles, 123 birds, 58 marsupials, 27 rodents, 21 frogs and nine exotic mammals in the stomachs and fecal matter of feral cats, the ABC reports.

    But the program has run into opposition from animal rights group PETA, model Brigitte Bardot and singer Morrissey.

    "We all know that the idiots rule the earth, but this is taking idiocy just too far," Morrissey said in a statement in September.

    "The cats, who keep the rodent population under control, will be killed in a ferocious manner, using Compound 10/80, which is a gut-wrenching poison of the most unimaginable and lengthy horror."

    The followed an open letter from Bardot, who said Australia would have the "blood of millions of innocent animals" on its hands.

    "This animal genocide is inhumane and ridiculous. In addition to being cruel, killing these cats is absolutely useless since the rest of them will keep breeding," she said.

    "Not only is shooting and poisoning cats cruel, culls have been shown to be unsuccessful in the long term," a PETA spokesman told the ABC in August.

    The campaigners say there are better ways to control the feral cat population, such as euthanasia, trapping or through neutering.

    But the Australian government has hit back with some open letters of its own.

    "Our wildlife has endured one of the highest extinction rates in the world," Australia's threatened species commissioner Gregory Andrews wrote earlier this week. "Much of this species loss is due to very high levels of predation by feral cats, which are an invasive species on this continent."

    "Australia has drawn a line in the sand on the loss of native wildlife. The Australian public and conservation community supports our approach; we cannot tolerate the damage feral cats are doing to our wildlife anymore. Feral cats must be controlled to protect Australia's unique native wildlife and our ecology."

    The government's plan has the backing of ecologists and conservation groups.

    Katherine Moseby, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide, says feral cats are one of the main factors stopping native species from flourishing.

    "One of the main causes of re-introduction failure in Australia is feral cats," she says. "They're preventing us from re-establishing species. It's having a huge impact."

    Moseby also says those who oppose the cat cull don't fully understand the unique issues facing Australia.

    "These are not cats that have been dumped by their owners. They don't live near garbage bins in the inner-city. 90% of Australia is rural and remote so we have large tracts of land where humans simply don't go. It's really not practicle or possible to lay traps or neuter cats in these areas. I don't think people understand the extent of the feral cat problem here."