Sunday, September 6, 2015

Domestic Cats Kill Billions of Native Wildlife Each Year

Domestic cats that roam freely outdoors cause devastating effects to the environment.

These invasive species are not part of the natural ecosystem, and they do not positively contribute to the environment. This is unlike a native fox that might hunt in the wild, and also die in the wild feeding other organisms.  The fox depends on hunting to survive, and in turn contributes to the ecosystem as they live and die.  Domestic cats are not a natural part of the food chain. Many are well fed and hunt without the need to eat their prey.  Feral cats, or domestic cats that have turned wild and have babies that grow up wild, are also a large part of this problem.

Domestic cats kill millions of birds such as this Red-bellied Woodpecker (photo: Paige Davis)

Domestic cats kill BILLIONS of wild animals each year in the United States alone.  This includes at least 500 million birds if not more. Cat predation is a huge reason why 1 in 3 American bird species are declining. Even if a cat catches something and does not kill it, tiny punctures from cat teeth are often fatal due to the high bacteria in cats' mouths. Cat caught animals have a high chance of mortality even from small wounds.  In fact, cats are the number one killer of birds and small mammals in the United States.

Even if not killed outright, puncture wounds may get infected and cause death (photo: Paige Davis)

Many cat owners believe it is cruel to keep cats indoors. This is not the case however. Cats encounter numerous dangers when roaming free such as poisons, predators, cars, diseases, and humans who will capture them on their property. Cats actually live much longer lives when kept safely indoors.

Just as with dogs, cat owners are encouraged to take their cats outside on a leash!  This is a great way for your cat to spend time outside safely and controlled.  Your pet will live much longer and healthier if kept indoors and supervised when outside.

Many native species have declined and even gone extinct due to cat predation.  An easy way you can help is by keeping your kitty indoors when not on a leash.  The fate of billions of lives depend on how we as humans will deal with this situation.

Submitted by Paige Davis, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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