Cats Kill Billions Of Animals Each Year

Cats Kill Billions Of Animals Each YearCats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, killing billions of animals each year, a study suggests. The authors estimate they are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.

‘Predatory prowess’

Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists said stray and feral cats were the worst offenders. The authors concluded that more animals are dying at the claws of cats in the United States than in road accidents, collisions with buildings or poisonings.

To find out more, researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service carried out a review of studies that had previously looked at the predatory prowess of cats.


‘Threat to US wildlife’

Their analysis revealed that the cat killings were much higher than previous studies had suggested: they found that they had killed more than four times as many birds as has been previously estimated. Birds native to the US, such as the American Robin, were most at risk, and mice, shrews, voles, squirrels and rabbits were the mammals most likely to be killed.

Dr Pete Marra from the SCBI said: “Our study suggests that they are the top threat to US wildlife… We hope that the large amount of wildlife mortality indicated by our research convinces some cat owners to keep their cats indoors and that it alerts policymakers, wildlife managers and scientists to the large magnitude of wildlife mortality caused by cat predation.”

The team said that “un-owned” cats, which they classified as strays, feral cats and farm cats, were killing about three times as many animals as pet cats, but that their owners could do more to limit the impact.

Do you own a cat? What sort of animals has your pet cat brought home?

Source: Rebecca Morelle, BBC News

Image: Discovery

If All Cats Suddenly Vanished

Experts say that if all the world’s cats suddenly died, things would quickly go to hell in a handbasket.

Cats, both pets and strays, may fool us into thinking that they depend on our food and trash for survival, but according to Alan Beck, professor of veterinary medicine and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, they’re expert predators with adaptable hunting behaviors.

By killing mice and rats in barns and grain storage areas, cats are vital for keeping those pests in check. In India, Beck said, cats are believed to play a significant role in lessening the amount of grain loss caused by consumption or contamination by rodents. In other words, it may be true that humans feed cats, but without cats, humans would have less food in the first place.


So, how dramatically would the rodent population increase if cats suddenly vanished? A 1997 study in Great Britain found that the average house cat brought home more than 11 dead animals (including mice, birds, frogs and more) in the course of six months. That meant the 9 million cats of Britain were collectively killing close to 200 million wild specimens per year — not including all those they did not offer up to their owners. A study in New Zealand in 1979 found that, when cats were nearly eradicated from a small island, the local rat population quickly quadrupled.

And let’s not forget the emotional toll that a mass cat death would take on us humans: “In this country, cats are much loved by many.

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Paradoxoff Planet