12 facts about preventing domestic cat predation
Here are 10 facts about the prevention of domestic cat predation on wildlife. If you can add some more (politely!) please comment.
- We don’t know with certainly the full extent of domestic cat predation because all the studies are local with figures extrapolated for an entire country. These are good guesstimates but the numbers you see, for instance of 2.4 billion birds killed annually in the US, are probably more fiction than fact. The true figure is probably less than half that. It is a fact that ornithologists have an axe to grind. They max out the numbers to support the case for cat confinement which is entirely understandable.
- That said, cat predation on wildlife is a justifiable concern, particularly to ornithologists. Although preferring to protect birds over mice is speciesism.
- Birds are not at the top of the cat’s menu. Mice are. Birds are far harder to catch. Do cats eat deceased birds? Do you ever see a deceased bird lying on the ground?
- Most cat owners do not place the protection of wildlife high on their list of priorities as cat caregivers. They are more concerned with their cat’s safety when keeping cats indoors and they do this at least partly because of the distress and hassle they’ll have if their cat is hurt outside. This lack of will among the vast majority of the cat owning public is a barrier to preventing domestic cat predation.
- Many local-to-provincial authorities discuss laws to protect wildlife from being attacked by cats. The most common debate is keeping cats inside the confines of their owner’s property. Night time curfews are another option which pops up from time to time. Few if any enact laws to confine cats 24/7.
- Brightly coloured cat collars are effective in protecting birds but not mammals such as mice because birds have excellent colour vision and they see the cats coming. Studies show that cats wearing these high-viz ‘ruffs’, as I’d call them, brought home less birds. They are available for purchase. Are they popular among cat caregivers? I have never seen them in use.
- Collars with bells are less effective in protecting wildlife because cats learn to modify their movements to prevent the bell from ringing.
- If you stop feeding birds with feeders you won’t attract them to your backyard (garden). This will save the lives of some birds.
- The same goes for squirrel feeders. Squirrels chuck their food onto the ground where birds feed on it. This endangers them to a cat attack. Stop feeding squirrels. Both these actions are hard to do for animal lovers. Many cat owners love animals. There is a conflict here.
- Reduce domestic cat hunting by feeding them grain-free food and playing with them.
- The country most concerned about domestic cat predation is Australia. In second place is America. The reason why Australia is so concerned is because they have a ‘feral cat problem’ which they have failed to deal with for hundreds of years. They are playing catchup without real success but with plenty of cruelty. And humans are killing so many wild animals in many ways such as extended human settlements they have to find a scapegoat!
- The only certain way of minimising domestic cat predation while giving cats as good a life as possible is to find a compromise. The accepted compromise is to confine cats to the home and a garden enclosure or catio. This is probably the future of domestic cats if we look far enough ahead.
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