Dramatic picture of a cat trying catch a bird in mid-flight

Dramatic picture of a domestic cat leaping into the air to try and catch a bird that has just taken off
Dramatic picture of a domestic cat leaping into the air to try and catch a bird that has just taken off. The picture is free to use under an unconditional Creative Commons license. You can access the original by clicking on this picture where you can download it by right clicking on it and following the menu.
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Domestic cats can and sometimes do try and catch a flying bird, which is in line with the best exponent of this form of feline predation; the caracal, which can jump the highest from a standing start of all the cats, whatever their size. But often the bird is on the ground and/or ill. Do you ever see a dead bird on the ground? No. Eaten by scavengers and sometimes stray cats.

I have seen a domestic cat catch a lying magpie about five feet in the air after it had been pestering the cat when defending its territory. Under these circumstances domestic cats usually turn a blind eye but, on this occasion, he retaliated and bingo the bird was toast.

Predation by domestic cats is an important topic of conversation. There are ever increasing demands to keep cat companions indoors all the time to primarily protect domestic cat prey animals of which native species are the most precious to the authorities.

Human activities are threatening tens of thousands of different species which puts an onus on taking measures against the domestic cat to stop them preying on native species. It is humans passing the buck but we have to expect that. In a rearguard action by many authorities there is a hightened awareness of wildlife conservation. The domestic cat’s historical freedom to roam as they please is under increased pressure.

Most cat caregivers are more concerned about their anxiety borne out of dangers to indoor/out door cats typically injury from RTAs. But the conservationists see the poblem from an entirely different angle: how to prevent cat predation.

In one of the most famous research studies on domestic cat predation and one of the first which took place in the small English village of Felversham 70 cats brought home 1,090 prey animals during a 12-month study. There was great variation in hunting success between the cats.

Note: it was conducted in an English village. Clearly the prey animals available depends on where the cat lives.

The breakdown of prey animals was as follows. Clearly the majority are ground-dwelling small mammals; the typical domestic cat prey item. Not birds. But when conservations express a concern about domestic cat predation it normally concerns birds not mice.

  • Wood mice (17 percent).
  • House sparrows (16 percent) – at least 30 percent of the deaths of this species were due to cat predation.
  • Field voles (14 percent).
  • Common shrews (12 percent).

RELATED: Domestic cat preying unlikely to effect population size of prey species

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