Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in October 2000 as the 526th refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is located near St. Francisville, Louisiana, which is 25 miles north of Baton Rouge. The Refuge was established to conserve, restore, and manage native forested wetland habitats for migratory birds, aquatic resources, and endangered & threatened plants and animals. Additionally, it was created to encourage the participation of volunteers and facilitate partnerships among the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local communities, and conservation organizations to remote public awareness of resources of the refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The refuge is located along the southern-most non-levee portion of the lower Mississippi River and completely floods in most years. The river may rise several times during the year beginning in late December through June. Some areas of the refuge receive more than 15 feet of water. As the river rises, the refuge becomes closed to all vehicular access. River levels can be checked at www.srh.noaa.gov/lmrfc. Road access becomes restricted when water levels exceed approximately 23 feet on the Baton Rouge river gauge.