I am a cat lover. They are wonderful companions, don’t need to be walked five times a day, and are generally self-sufficient as long as you feed them regularly.
But they are predators and they are not native to North America.
I haven’t had an outdoor cat in a long time. One reason is the fact that outdoor cats live much shorter and more dangerous lives. The other is that cats are not native to the Americas and they kill a staggering amount of wildlife.
Studies show that hunting by domestic cats can have a large effect on local animal populations because they kill more prey in a given area than wild predators of similar size. This effect is concentrated relatively close to a domestic cat’s home, since most of their movement was within a 100-meter radius of their homes, usually spanning a few of their neighborhood yards on either side.
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences collaborated with scientists and citizen scientists from six countries to collect GPS cat tracking data and prey capture reports from 925 domestic cats, most of them from the United States and the United Kingdom. , Australia and New Zealand.
Because they are fed cat food, they do not kill as many prey each day as wild predators, but their ranges are so small that the effect on local prey is truly concentrated. Domestic cats have a two to ten times greater impact on wildlife than wild predators. They are amazing hunters.
The research focused on the ecological impact of domestic cats, as opposed to feral cats, and enlisted hundreds of pet owners to track their cats to see where they went and report the number of dead animals and birds they brought back. to home.
Inexpensive GPS tracking devices measured the distances traveled by these domestic cats, which spent their days both indoors and outdoors.
Some estimates show that cats in North America kill 10 to 30 billion wild animals per year. One study showed that a domestic cat kills an average of 14.2 to 38.9 prey items per hundred acres per year.
“Because the negative impact of cats is so local, we create a situation where the positive aspects of wildlife, whether it’s the songs of birds or the beneficial effects of lizards on pests, are less common where we would appreciate them more,” he said. study co-author Rob Dunn, the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Applied Ecology at NC State.
“Humans find joy in biodiversity, but by letting cats out into the great outdoors, we have unknowingly engineered a world in which such joys are increasingly difficult to experience,” he said.
For more information on cats and wildlife, visit the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative at http://go.osu.edu/loveohiobirds.
Scudier is a volunteer master gardener with Ohio State University Extension in Mahoning County.