Biodiversity | Animal Health and Welfare

Domestic cats: the risk to biodiversity and animal welfare


Report no:

Publishing: 20.06.2023

Key message:

VKM will assess the risk Norway's domestic cats pose to threatened species of birds, amphibians and reptiles, and will examine welfare issues associated with free-roaming cats in Norway.

VKM will also assess risk-reducing measures regarding the negative impact of cats on biodiversity and welfare issues.

VKM has initiated the project, partly because of a report by the Norwegian Ornithological Association from 2018 which concluded that about 7 million birds are killed by domestic cats each year in Norway.

The Mandate

The mandate has three main points. First, VKM will assess the magnitude of impact that free-roaming cats have on populations of small rodents, squirrels, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and various larger invertebrates. The risk of transferring various pathogenic organisms and parasites is also part of this assessment.

Secondly, animal welfare issues will be assessed, including whether free-roaming cats are exposed to various hazards, and the degree of unintended reproduction resulting in feral cats. The project group will also evaluate the negative welfare issues for the prey animals that are not killed by cats. Finally, VKM will address possible risk-reducing measures regarding hazards identified in the two first points.

The Project Group

The project group consists of:

The work will start mid-February 2021 and is expected to be finished during June 2023.

The Panel on Alien Organisms and Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), with supplement from the Panel on Animal Welfare and Animal Health, will be responsible for the risk assessment.


Martin Malmstrøm

Prosjektleder, ph.d.

M: 92 42 43 13
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The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment

T: 21 62 28 00

P.O. Box 222 Skøyen
0213 Oslo

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