I’m returning to the perennial subject of domestic cat predation on wildlife and I am pleased to report that a study by the University of Reading found that two thirds of cats brought home no prey over a six-week period. Their study appears to have injected a bit of realism into this fraught discussion.
A leading wildlife presenter and naturalist, Chris Packham has agreed that…
“only a small percentage of domestic cats are rogues. It’s about one in 10 which regularly takes wildlife.”
He made these comments when speaking before the BBC’s new Autumnwatch series. At one stage Packham had been incensed for years and demanded a night curfew for domestic cats because he believed that they were decimating British wildlife. The wildlife presenter began campaigning for a curfew after a report concluded that the 10 million cats in Britain killed 275 million animals a year including about 55 million birds.
I don’t know which earlier research study he was referring to but no doubt it was one of many which over the years I have come to understand are misleading. I have said this over and over again: many studies about domestic cat predation particularly on birdlife are inaccurate because they are guesstimates at best based upon extrapolating data from a small sample in a certain area of Britain which is not a reliable way to do research. It leads to misconceptions about domestic cat behaviour and it is frankly very damaging to the public profile of the domestic outdoor cat.
It is nice to know that a person with a high profile and a voice who can change public opinion to a certain extent has acknowledged that most domestic cats are entirely innocent and do not prey on songbirds or other garden wildlife. It is nice to be able to rectify misleading information and to do justice to our domestic cats.