Study finds domestic cats spend much time killing small animals

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fluffy may not be such a sweetheart after all.

If you let her outside, your house cat spends about a third of her time killing smaller animals like mice, voles, chipmunks and birds, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Her feral cousin is even more blood thirsty, killing an average of 23 to 46 birds and 129 to 338 small creatures a year.

In all, biologists estimate cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion small mammals each year in the continental United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funded a three-year study by the Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute to estimate the number of birds killed by predators, chemicals and by striking windows and wind generators.

They're interested because about a third of the 800-some species of birds in the United States are endangered, threatened or in significant decline, according to the American Bird Conservancy.

It turns out tabby is the biggest culprit.

Everyone knew cats were natural predators, but researchers were shocked by the carnage recorded by cameras attached to 60 cats turned loose during a 2012 University of Georgia study.

The issue is controversial, of course. There are 84 million pet cats in the United States in addition to 30 million to 80 million feral cats, and not everyone is a cat lover.

An outspoken economist and environmentalist in New Zealand, Gareth Morgan, is mounting a campaign for a mandatory, country-wide cat registration program plus trapping and euthanasia for wild cats.

It's definitely a tragedy that so many cats are left to fend for themselves in the wild -- even in the storm sewers of McCook, Nebraska -- and that so many songbirds are killed unnecessarily.

It's also tragic that cats are the number one animal that animal shelters are forced to euthanize each year.

Cats are only doing what comes naturally, and have served man over the centuries by killing rodents that spoil the stored grain supplies we depend upon for food.

They can be a great, no-fuss companion animal, but it's important that owners see to it that they don't contribute to the problems the new study points out.

Make sure your cat is spayed or neutered and stays home where it belongs.

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  • All of this could be helped if cat owners would keep their cat indoors.

    -- Posted by cq22 on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 8:12 AM
  • I had to stop growing vegetables because the cats in my neighborhood preferred my soil to going in the grass. I had to stop feeding song birds because the cats waited for ground feeding birds like doves to go after seed that had fallen out of the feeders. I had to stop feeding the squirrels because the mother squirrels were bringing their young to a source of food and the young were defenseless against the cats. I have began a campaign of trapping these cats and handing them over to the county animal control. My neighbors tell me I should stop feeding birds, squirrels etc.. Well I have. Not because they are right. I believe it is important to help native wildlife because we have destroyed much of their habitat. I say. keep your bird killing cats indoors and I will not trap them. I love animals including cats but I do not like irresponsible cat or dog owners.

    -- Posted by mehardy1 on Wed, May 15, 2013, at 4:40 PM
  • Lets see; so there's corn syrup, carbon dioxide, and what has now become the worst villain of all, non-imprisoned domesticated felines. My my, the world really is coming to an end. Maybe tabby is out killing all of the disappearing bees too.

    -- Posted by shallal on Wed, May 22, 2013, at 11:25 AM
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