A number of you are members of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology organization. In the Summer edition of Living Bird News, the Cornell Lab Director, John Fitzpatrick wrote a very important, yet chilling article concerning the effect of cat predation on birds and small mammals.
To get your own copy of their magazine, click here.
I have seen the studies he referenced, but it really is worth repeating because there seems to be ignorance to the consequence of cat ownership. Some allow their cats to hunt thinking cats need this form of entertainment. Others turn a blind eye, thinking their cat would never take a bird from their backyard. In his article, John cites critter-cam evidence showing almost all cat’s hunting behaviors will likely end in a kill.
The yearly toll on birds is staggering, with estimates ranging between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds killed annually by free-ranging domestic cats. Estimates of small mammals are from 6.9 billion to 20.7 billion. Not millions…BILLIONS. (S.R. Loss, T. Will, and P.P. Marra, 2013 – The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife in the united States. Nature Communications 4:1396/ncomms 2380).
He brought up a point in his article that many of the cats roaming through cities and parks are “subsidized recreational killers.” I have surmised this for a long time as neighbors deal with cats left by thoughtless owners who leave them when they move away.
Caring neighbors take these cats to trap-neuter-release organizations to be “fixed”, then they are returned to the streets to live out their lives in harsh weather and daily fierce battles with other cats and dogs.
They say this is humane and a solution to cat overpopulation. I don’t agree. There is a tailless cat and one with only one ear in my neighborhood. Cats with mange, and cats of skin and bones roam the neighborhood, sick cats are not as proficient of hunters. I find it sad to see the poor cats, just as it is sad to see birds taken by cats.
I read on blogs how kitty roams free daily and some even joke about the animals they bring home. The cats don’t always eat the prey either. What is funny or admirable about this? Cats being cats is not the problem, cat owners being irresponsible is the issue.
I am sure if I pictured a field mouse in this post, people would not be as sympathetic as these cute little songbirds, but mice is not all that domestic cats are catching as estimated in high numbers above. Since it is in a cat’s nature to hunt, it is not their fault.
Like John Fitzpatrick was previously, I am a cat owner. I brought in two cats from the streets (seen in this post) that people discarded, but I NEVER let them outside for a fun jaunt of animal predation. After living three frigid winters outside on their own, they never want to be outdoors again.