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Is Your Cat a Killer? - Some Downsides to Outdoor Cats

03 September 2015
Vet Med

US - The National Audubon Society estimates that outdoor cats kill between 1 billion and 4 billion birds and other wild animals each year, and according to the American Bird Conservancy, cats have been responsible for the extinction of at least 33 species of birds worldwide.

Cats can be wonderful companions, but they wreak havoc on wildlife when they are allowed to roam outdoors alone. And contrary to popular belief, cats do not hunt just for food.

Well-fed “house” cats are just as likely as a hungry stray to take down a defenseless bird learning to fly. Cats are predators, and they are hard-wired to be stealthy, fierce, successful killers.

If you have an outdoor cat and you care about wildlife, there are some things you can do to help keep wild animals safe. Obviously, the best option is to keep cats indoors or in an enclosed outdoor area.

Not only do these measures protect wildlife, they also protect the cats from cars, wild predators like coyotes, and some very scary illnesses that free-roaming animals carry—thus protecting your family from exposure to those illnesses as well.

If you can’t or don’t want to keep your cat indoors, there are a number of gadgets that you can use to at least minimize your cat’s hunting.

There are fancy collars and bells (though the efficacy of bells is questionable at best), even something as simple as a brightly colored scrunchy (an elasticized cloth band) around the cat’s neck can allow the would-be victim to sight the cat sooner and give it time to escape.

Finally, if you have an outdoor cat, avoid feeding wildlife. Bird feeders and baths are great ways to see wild birds up close, but if you have an outdoor cat, you are essentially baiting these animals—especially if there are bushes, trees, or other hiding places nearby.

On a positive note, the animals we are caring for will get another shot at life. They are eating and growing and should be back in the wild before the summer ends, hopefully this time a bit more wary of cats.

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