Domesticated Cats Have Been Responsible for 33 Specie Extinctions

When it comes to chasing the little red dots of laser pointers, bringing you dead rodents from outside as presents or causing you to break out in laughter as you film their latest jumping endeavors, felines are certainly beloved by many. But when it comes to their hunting instinct, their sharp sense of smell and their razor-sharp claws, cats are without a doubt, one of the top wildlife threats to other animals. According to an article back in 2013 by BBC, cats have quite the killer instinct which results in the deaths of 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds per year! But to make matters worse, they are responsible for the global extinction of thirty-three species! How? Their predatory prowess has spiked.

What the Smithsonian Institute Believes Has Happened

Although the impact on mainland areas has been hard to track, the domestic cat has been well documented in its killing sprees across local islands around the world. The data taken from this documentation is what has caused there to be blame placed on cats in the first place. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute wanted to take a look at why felines are responsible for the global extinction of thirty-three species and how they managed to do so over the years. They found that cats were killing at a much higher rate than what was previously estimated in prior years. How much more? Four times as many birds were dying than previous estimates.

Who Are The Worst Offenders?

When it comes to looking at the numbers, un-owned cats such as ferals, strays, and farm cats generally kill about three times more animals and birds than pet cats. Unfortunately, pet cats are still contributing to a significant amount of animal deaths and according to the BBC, owners are just not doing enough to reduce their impact.

What Animals and Birds Are At Risk From Cats?

According to the BBC article, mammals like shrews, voles, rabbits, mice, and squirrels are the most at risk while native birds like the American Robin are also at risk.

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How Can Owners Reduce Their Cat’s Impact?

  • If at all possible, make your cat an indoor cat. This will cut down their impact as they will not have access to the outdoors where the majority of mammals and birds live. If a rat or mouse gets into your house though, then it better watch out!
  • Get your cat spayed or neutered so that they cannot have more cats which will contribute to the problem. Cats who are fixed are also less likely to get into fights with other cats, are less aggressive, and won’t contribute to the un-owned cat population.
  • If you have an outdoor cat and don’t want to make it an indoor cat, consider getting an in-ground electric fence. Not only will this minimize the area in which your cat can kill in, but it can also help keep them out of trouble.
  • Consider putting colorful collars on your outdoor cats so that birds and reptiles can see your cats coming from farther away. This gives them a better chance of getting out of the way of your cat.

Although it may be saddening to hear that cats have been responsible for the global extinction of several bird, rodent, and reptile species, it is important to remember that a lot of rodents do carry harmful diseases that cats eradicate and that these types of mammals do breed fast, so not all species will become extinct. Cats are meant to cull, balance, and kill off larger populations, we just have to make sure that our love for cats doesn’t outweigh the balance of other animals around the globe.