A recent study published to the scientific journal Wildlife Research sheds light on how effective cats are at hunting and the results quite shocking.
Undertaken in Australia the study shows that both feral and pet cats pose an enormous threat to wildlife across the country. They found that feral cats collectively kill more than three billion animals a year.
The new research compiles the results of 66 different studies on pet cats to gauge the impact of Australia’s pet cat population on the country’s wildlife. Researchers found that on average, each pet cat kills around 186 animals a year; these include reptiles, birds, and mammals, most of which are native to Australia.
Cat owners have tried to protect local wildlife by keeping their pet cats indoors 24 hours a day. However, research has shown that your cat can get out without you ever knowing about it. A radio tracking study in Adelaide found that of the 177 cats that owners believed were inside at night, 69 cats (39 percent) were sneaking out for nocturnal adventures.
Many owners assume their pet cats don’t hunt because they never bring home evidence of a kill, but this is not the case. Through the use of video tracking collars and scat analysis (analysing the cat’s feces) researchers have found that most pet cats do indeed go out and kill other animals without bringing them home. On average, pet cats bring home only 15 percent of their prey. This means that collectively, roaming pet cats kill an average of 390 million animals per year in Australia.
There have been a number of attempts to lessen the kill ratio of pet cats, as mentioned above, keeping your cat indoors 24 hours a day is one method, albeit not very affective. Another method or myth people use is to feed their cats more meat instead of regular store bought cat food, but this too will be ineffective, as cats hunt even when they’re not hungry.
People have also tried to use various devices such as collars with bells on it, which have been commercially marketed as a way of preventing hunting, but this too is largely ineffective. While these collars may reduce the amount of kills your cat gets, they don’t prevent hunting altogether. This means that your pet cat is still out disturbing wildlife. Research has found that when a cat prowls an area the local wildlife spends more time hiding or escaping. This reduces the time spent feeding themselves or their young, or resting.
Take a look at the full impact of roaming pet cats below.