I have been a ”cat” person for a long time. My family always had cats, and the odd dead bird or vole on the porch was never a very surprising occurrence. The killer instincts of the various kitties could be toyed with using a laser pointer or bit of string. I didn't really think of the more wild elements of my pet as an issue, never mind even considering the possibility that they were a detriment to the surrounding area. However, apparently there are further reaching ecological consequences than I had previously imagined.
When it comes to light that domestic cats are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals annually the image quickly shifts from playful companion to coldblooded killer. These numbers are large enough to affect the ecological landscape of the US and people are starting to notice. Researchers based out of the Smithsonian Conservation center and US Fish and Wildlife service have executed a review of studies concerned with the violent, primal instincts of domestic cats and their effect on United States wildlife. Results suggest that our cuddly pets are likely the top threat to small American animals.
The study also reveals that most of the problem is stray or feral domestic cats, but warns against leaving pet cats completely blameless and suggests owners fit their cats with bells. One especially affected group is birds native to the US, such as the Robin. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list of threatened animal and plant species lists free ranging cats on islands as being the cause of or main contributing factor to 33 modern bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions. The United States is a large mainland country so it is harder to map the effects of domestic cats and easier to consider these numbers a small problem. But, how long will it be before species start going extinct while we sit there stroking our cat and wondering who blame?
Posted by Hunter Alexander (1)