A recent meta-analysis of 21 different studies of feral and domestic cats shows that previous estimates of how many birds and small mammals cats kill were lower than they really are, by 2 to 4 times. Your cute cuddly kitty is an adorable efficient killer: in the United States alone cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals (mice, rats, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, shrews and rabbits). One could of course argue that cats do a very good job of killing mice and rats and since these are considered pests and not wildlife, that is a good thing. But most of the small mammals they kill are wildlife and not mice and rats, according to the study. Environmentalists have long seen free-roaming domestic cats as an invasive species, a big threat to conservation efforts. The solution would be, of course, to keep all cats indoors but many people argue it is not fair to keep cats always inside. Dogs are already not allowed to be free-roaming and the same rule should apply to cats. Cats can get killed by traffic and other outdoor hazards as well too. For dogs it is different because dogs get to go out for walks, get to go to the dog park, etc. I'm of course not trying to tell cat owners what to do, bit this in t=interesting data and it should be taken into consideration.
In a report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat.
The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes.
Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and an author of the report, said the mortality figures that emerge from the new model “are shockingly high.”
“When we ran the model, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Dr. Marra, who performed the analysis with a colleague, Scott R. Loss, and Tom Will of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “We were absolutely stunned by the results.” The study appeared Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.
The findings are the first serious estimate of just how much wildlife America’s vast population of free-roaming domestic cats manages to kill each year.
Read the rest here.
They are pests in Australia too!
Heard one story where the army sent a section of troops to exterminate a a population of cats somewhere in the Northern Territory/ Queensland border area. They shone the lights into a tree one night and the got a shock at the number of cats eye that were lit up in the torch light.
They also change their coat colours as well. Those living in the desert take on a ginger coloured coat while those that live in the forest take on a greyish colour coat.
But they haven't curbed the rabbit population, prefer birds and lizards and the alike!
I guess those are feral cats rather than people's pets. Here in NYC there is a sizable population of feral cats and they breed like rabbits (no pun intended). there has been a big effort of trapping them, spaying and neutering and then release which is more humane than extermination and then the problem solves itself in a generation of cats. But the effort has to be really thorough because cats can have lots of babies.
It's very interesting that their coat color evolves with the environment!
Oh! The house cat is no different and they advise you when you get a cat for a pet to have it neutered because they also can become semi feral as well as go completely feral and that way they cannot add to the feral population.
Yes, that is absolutely true. Cats can go feral much more easily than dogs. Here in the US most domestic pets are neutered, cats included.
I have a feral cat that I trapped to have 'fixed." The veternarian said I had to keep her confiined until the operation healed. She hid in my house for months. As much as I tried to release her, I was unable to put her back into the wild because she hid, or ran away from me every time I tried to grab her.
After several/numerous months she began to warm up. We are now friends.
Unfortunately where I lived there was a terrible feril cat population The county seat had a great program where they caught ferils funded through tax dollars to have them fixed. With help the local humaine society trapped ferils, had them neutered/spayed and after the cats healed were released back to where they were caught. Fixed cats had their ears snipped to measure how sucessfull the program was.
Such a program should be expanded.
Grouchilly, perhaps it should be done with people as well.
The colour of the ones living in the forests is similar in colour to the second picture of a cat with a rabbit in its mouth.
Not only cats and other rodents can be a pest but other small animals and birds like pigeons can be too. I know that in the UK steps have been taken regarding a growing pigeons invasion. But, I think that household cats are generally neutered and for good reasons and if they are not, it's their owners reponsibility to care about their offsprings (that is if they are female)
I must correct myself: in my studies that date 25 years in the UY I can't remember if the pigeons were a nuisance and the squirrels a pest. I stand to be corrected.
Blasphemy against cats! You dare speak such terrors of our true lords and masters...... I find this offensive...... (line of incoherent rants and threats)
Ha! I have a few cat lover friends who also took offense :-) Although their cats are exclusively indoor NYC cats, so not really getting to anything else but mice :-)
my cat lets me live inside.
I saw a story on youtube where a cat moved from one house after another, four in all, and each lady who lived there thought they owned this cat. So it just goes to show that its the Cats that own the people not the other way round.