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Study: Kitty-Cams Attached to House Cats Show Kill Numbers Higher Than Previously Known

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August 07, 2012

Study: Kitty-Cams Attached to House Cats Show Kill Numbers Higher Than Previously Known

By Chad Love

I don't hate cats. Really, I don't. My wife has two of them, and I believe the fact that those annoying little bastards are still alive after all these years of warily sharing the same house with me proves that I don't have an anti-cat bias. I'm not into them, but if you are, then hey, who am I to judge, right? But please, don't stand there and tell me how your adorable little Boopsy-Woopsy is a gentle soul that wouldn't harm a fly, because the fact is your Mr. Boopsy-Woopsy is even more of a stone-cold killer than we originally thought.

From this story in USA Today:
That mouse carcass Kitty presents you with is just the tip of a very bloody iceberg. When researchers attached kittycams to house cats, they found a secret world of slaughter. While only 30% of roaming house cats kill prey — two animals a week on average — they are still slaying more wildlife than previously believed, according to research from the University of Georgia. Wildlife advocates say it is a frightening level of feline foul play.

Based on a U.S. house-cat population of 74 million, "cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American birds species are in decline," says George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy. "The previous estimates were probably too conservative because they didn't include the animals that cats ate or left behind," University of Georgia researcher Kerrie Anne Loyd says.

According to the story, university researchers teamed up with National Geographic to build 60 tiny wearable "cat cameras," which were then placed on 60 housecats in the Athens, Georgia area. Each cat's activities were recorded for seven to 10 days. Each cat spent four to six hours a day outside, and boy did they make use of their free time. The results read like a cheap grindhouse slasher flick: Lizards, snakes and frogs made up 41 percent of the total kills, small mammals comprised 25 percent, insects and worms were 20 percent and birds totaled 12 percent of kitty prey. The cats brought home 25 percent of their kill, ate 30 percent, and left almost half of their victims where they killed them.

Thoughts? And remember, those numbers are for housecats, you know, pets. It doesn't take into account the massive number of feral cats roaming the countryside.

Comments (29)

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from achrisk wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Cats suck.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Keep your cats in your house.

There's one in my neighborhood that spends time in my backyard along the woods... I want to shoot it.

Feral cat tags?! Would that be wrong?!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ENO wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Good Stuff!

Favorite line - "Mr. Boopsy-Woopsy is even more of a stone-cold killer than we originally thought"

Close Second - "The results read like a cheap grindhouse slasher flick"

And the picture makes it even funnier.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PipersDad06 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

As an owner of Hunting Retriever and three indoor cats, I always remind my wife of the fact, that despite how affectionate they can be, if the cats were big enough they would try to kill and eat us since they are essentially smaller versions of mountain lions with the same instincts and prey drive.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Lets see, two dozen barn cats and two indoor/outdoor cats. They have surprised even me with some of the game they have taken, including full grown jackrabbits.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

feral Cats recieve the 3S rule, shoot, shovel, shut up

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Laura Wheeler wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Seriously? Run the numbers! 60 cats were cammed. Of those, only 30% killed anything. That means 18 of them. Of those 18, they each killed an average of 2 animals per week. That means 36 kills. The drama trying to make this sound like huge numbers is pretty ludicrous. They mostly killed things that cause problems if they don't kill them, not a lot of birds (remember the whole cat and bird thing is perpetuated by cartoons, which most of us stopped believing in after childhood). Cats can only really kill weak or previously injured birds, they just aren't fast enough to catch a healthy bird before it can fly away - and the low numbers here would bear that out. It isn't like cats are out there decimating species. Pesticides and herbicides are much more likely culprits for bird declines. Cats are doing exactly what many pet owners hope they will - killing small pests. If you have a cat in the house, you don't have mice or rats in the house. That's a whole lot safer than bait.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Cat + my yard = target! Keep them in the house, PLEASE!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Peter J. Wolf wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

It’s disappointing to see so many news outlets swallowing in one in one gulp a press release plagued with errors, misrepresentations, and glaring omissions.

The American Bird Conservancy and The Wildlife Society claim, for example, that “bird kills constituted about 13 percent of the total wildlife kills.” Thirteen percent of HOW MANY? As the Athens Banner-Herald reported in April, “just five of the cats’ 39 successful hunts involved birds.”

That’s right: FIVE. Fifty-five cats, 2,000 hours of video—and just FIVE birds. Not so impressive when it’s put like that, is it?

And which species of birds are we talking about? Are these common? Rare? Native? Non-native? Etc. It’s curious that ABC and TWS, which claim to be concerned with the “ongoing slaughter of wildlife,” aren’t troubled by such “details.”

ABC president George Fenwick claims that “cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline.” Where’s the evidence? Certainly not in the KittyCam study!

Predators—cats included—tend to prey on the young, the old, the weak and unhealthy. At least two studies have investigated this in great detail, revealing that birds killed by cats are, on average, significantly less healthy that birds killed through non-predatory events (e.g., collisions with windows or cars).

As the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds notes: “Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide… It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations.”

Nobody claiming to have even the slightest regard for science would extrapolate from five birds killed in Athens, GA, for the purposes of developing a nationwide “estimate.” The fact that Fenwick is so willing to do so—and sell it to the public—says far more about the integrity of ABC than it does about predator-prey dynamics.

The ABC/TWS press release is just the latest installment in the long-standing witch-hunt against free-roaming cats. It’s difficult not to see it as an act of desperation—no surprise, really, from organizations whose position is supported by neither the science nor public opinion.

Peter J. Wolf
VoxFelina [dot] com

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Savageshot wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

My grandpa always said rabbit hunting if we saw a cat without a collar to kill it because they kill for pleasure.Watching the cat i had growing up i never saw anything to prove otherwise it would try to kill the birds in the yard everyday.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Those who want to defend cats are a little too wrapped up in the argument that this experiment focused on housecats... pets. What they don't account for is feral cats that aren't fed, and aren't housed indoors for half the day (or more).

I can say that, while I never liked the idea of feral cats, it never occurred to me how destructive they can be. In the SF Bay Area of CA, I saw how prolific they can be when feral populations are only barely checked by animal control. I'd bet that in a single night's stroll along one waterway, I saw or heard over 100 cats. That's a relatively small area, so even if I overestimate, that's still a crapload of cats out fending for themselves.

True, part of what they eat is undesirable mammals (mice and rats). But the other part includes all sorts of stuff, including struggling species. Cats don't read the literature. They could care less if that lizard is the last of 1000, or just one of billions.

In other places, such as my new home in Texas, they're a sure enough threat to species that are in decline... such as bobwhite quail. Sure, they may not be the primary cause of the decline, but they're definitely a hindrance to any sort of return. Around my place here in the Hill Country, I counted 14 cats... including one "family group" of at least 8. Fortunately, exterminating feral cats is not only accepted, but recommended here. If a cat is roaming without a collar, it's courting death. Period. I think that's the way it should be.

That said, it's not the cats' fault. It's only their nature. It's the fault of the irresponsible slobs who let them run wild, and even worse, the idiots who let their cats run wild without bothering to spay or neuter them.

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Just another invasive species. I prefer pheasents and browntrout myself.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dukkillr wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Gotta laugh when the cat-lovers come out of the woodwork.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hhack wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I love cats but make no mistake every cat I have ever had is a cold blooded killer. One big reason to have one they will get rid of rodent problem alot safer then having someone come by and set poison out. My mother has a cat without claws that averages about one bird a week he is pretty impressive.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

What we need is a federal law that makes the shooting of feral cats legal. Have it include a hunting license that empowers the holder to terminate with extreme prejudice any feral cat they come across.

Have it make the prosecution of feral cat shooters a federal crime and set up an agency that behaves as badly as certain alphabet agencies do to enforce it.

After they bounce the heads of a few local judges and assistant district attorneys on the roofs of cars while arresting them and subject them to a nice perp walk for the news cameras, the rest will get the message.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

What we need is a federal law that makes the shooting of feral cats legal. Have it include a hunting license that empowers the holder to terminate with extreme prejudice any feral cat they come across.

Have it make the prosecution of feral cat shooters a federal crime and set up an agency that behaves as badly as certain alphabet agencies do to enforce it.

After they bounce the heads of a few local judges and assistant district attorneys on the roofs of cars while arresting them and subject them to a nice perp walk for the news cameras, the rest will get the message.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HammerGun wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Wow - Laura and Peter, why do you guys hate birds so much?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Maybe this is a little to sick of irony, but what if they made a feral cat falconary permit? then its a cat eat bird, bigger bird eats cat world.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from canislupus wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Cats rule. But like sociopaths, they should not be let outside.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

"My grandpa always said rabbit hunting if we saw a cat without a collar to kill it because they kill for pleasure." That's a juicy morsel of irony.

I understand the damage caused particularly by feral cats, and I hate that my neighbors aim for three litters a year to keep their rodents down, in the process overpopulating the neighborhood with feral cats.

That said, I'm still fond of cats, and I truly admire their hunting skills. I also regularly donate money to a local organization that traps feral cats - especially whole litters of kittens - spays and neuters them, then adopts them out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

The problem is really not your pet housecat (which will kill when outside the house) but the millions of wild, feral cats that have been dumped by their owners or pets who left the house and never came back....they revert totally to the wild and are efficient predators. The Audubon Society estimates 30 million songbirds are killed each year by feral cats...what they do to the quail, pheasant, and other game bird populations is devastating. I trapped feral cats for several months and received death threats from the lunatics at PETA...can't understand why it is wrong to trap free-ranging wild house cats, but it is ok for bird species to be wiped out by these killers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Payton Messmore wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I dont like "some" cats! But i'm not saying if a stray came around I wouldn't practice my bow shooting!!! Haha

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I speak as a person who has lived all his life with cats and I love them; love them in my house that is! However I love wildlife more. ALL wildlife! The ignorant and irrational arguments put forth by some divorced-from-reality cat lovers are just total BS and we all know this. The comments shown in this thread prove it. Any cat that crosses my path out of doors becomes an ex-cat then and there. People who allow pet cats to run loose deserve to lose them and feral cats should be exterminated down to the last one! I will continue to do my part.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I once had a cricket problem in a basement of a house that I was renting. It was a nice, finished basement, that mostly was used for laundry and storing. Couldn't get rid of the crickets so we got a young cat and put her down there. She was a cricket vacuum!

I like cats and all, but the ditch-tigers I see around the fields in Iowa get a .22 bullet or a 12 gauge. There is a difference between killing someone's pet and killing an invasive species.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I once had a cricket problem in a basement of a house that I was renting. It was a nice, finished basement, that mostly was used for laundry and storing. Couldn't get rid of the crickets so we got a young cat and put her down there. She was a cricket vacuum!

I like cats and all, but the ditch-tigers I see around the fields in Iowa get a .22 bullet or a 12 gauge. There is a difference between killing someone's pet and killing an invasive species.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from okie_goose_hntr wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

As Josh said earlier - 3S. Feral or someone who lets there cat run. Same treatment for the dogs that people let run. I am a half mile from my nearest neighbor and still get their dogs & cats. It amazed me how far a house cat will wander. Now the neighbor's cows eating my landscaping is a different issue - the deer eat my landscaping also.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kevst82 wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I was taught to eliminate any cat that i see in the woods without a collar. My brother has a half lab, half golden retriever that brings wildlife that he has caught to the door(even adult quail). If a 90lb dog can catch as much wildlife as he does within a half acre area (contained with an underground fence), then I hate to imagine what a feral cat can do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Man this is getting a lot of press! The student who did this study was a UGA graduate, so naturally, I get an email on it about every couple of days.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Cats are okay but it is the same old story. Be responsible with your pets. Cat or dog. Dogs chase deer and that's just as bad.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from HogBlog wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Those who want to defend cats are a little too wrapped up in the argument that this experiment focused on housecats... pets. What they don't account for is feral cats that aren't fed, and aren't housed indoors for half the day (or more).

I can say that, while I never liked the idea of feral cats, it never occurred to me how destructive they can be. In the SF Bay Area of CA, I saw how prolific they can be when feral populations are only barely checked by animal control. I'd bet that in a single night's stroll along one waterway, I saw or heard over 100 cats. That's a relatively small area, so even if I overestimate, that's still a crapload of cats out fending for themselves.

True, part of what they eat is undesirable mammals (mice and rats). But the other part includes all sorts of stuff, including struggling species. Cats don't read the literature. They could care less if that lizard is the last of 1000, or just one of billions.

In other places, such as my new home in Texas, they're a sure enough threat to species that are in decline... such as bobwhite quail. Sure, they may not be the primary cause of the decline, but they're definitely a hindrance to any sort of return. Around my place here in the Hill Country, I counted 14 cats... including one "family group" of at least 8. Fortunately, exterminating feral cats is not only accepted, but recommended here. If a cat is roaming without a collar, it's courting death. Period. I think that's the way it should be.

That said, it's not the cats' fault. It's only their nature. It's the fault of the irresponsible slobs who let them run wild, and even worse, the idiots who let their cats run wild without bothering to spay or neuter them.

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Keep your cats in your house.

There's one in my neighborhood that spends time in my backyard along the woods... I want to shoot it.

Feral cat tags?! Would that be wrong?!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ENO wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Good Stuff!

Favorite line - "Mr. Boopsy-Woopsy is even more of a stone-cold killer than we originally thought"

Close Second - "The results read like a cheap grindhouse slasher flick"

And the picture makes it even funnier.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Laura Wheeler wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Seriously? Run the numbers! 60 cats were cammed. Of those, only 30% killed anything. That means 18 of them. Of those 18, they each killed an average of 2 animals per week. That means 36 kills. The drama trying to make this sound like huge numbers is pretty ludicrous. They mostly killed things that cause problems if they don't kill them, not a lot of birds (remember the whole cat and bird thing is perpetuated by cartoons, which most of us stopped believing in after childhood). Cats can only really kill weak or previously injured birds, they just aren't fast enough to catch a healthy bird before it can fly away - and the low numbers here would bear that out. It isn't like cats are out there decimating species. Pesticides and herbicides are much more likely culprits for bird declines. Cats are doing exactly what many pet owners hope they will - killing small pests. If you have a cat in the house, you don't have mice or rats in the house. That's a whole lot safer than bait.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Cat + my yard = target! Keep them in the house, PLEASE!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dukkillr wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Gotta laugh when the cat-lovers come out of the woodwork.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I speak as a person who has lived all his life with cats and I love them; love them in my house that is! However I love wildlife more. ALL wildlife! The ignorant and irrational arguments put forth by some divorced-from-reality cat lovers are just total BS and we all know this. The comments shown in this thread prove it. Any cat that crosses my path out of doors becomes an ex-cat then and there. People who allow pet cats to run loose deserve to lose them and feral cats should be exterminated down to the last one! I will continue to do my part.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from achrisk wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Cats suck.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PipersDad06 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

As an owner of Hunting Retriever and three indoor cats, I always remind my wife of the fact, that despite how affectionate they can be, if the cats were big enough they would try to kill and eat us since they are essentially smaller versions of mountain lions with the same instincts and prey drive.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Lets see, two dozen barn cats and two indoor/outdoor cats. They have surprised even me with some of the game they have taken, including full grown jackrabbits.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

feral Cats recieve the 3S rule, shoot, shovel, shut up

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Savageshot wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

My grandpa always said rabbit hunting if we saw a cat without a collar to kill it because they kill for pleasure.Watching the cat i had growing up i never saw anything to prove otherwise it would try to kill the birds in the yard everyday.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Just another invasive species. I prefer pheasents and browntrout myself.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hhack wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I love cats but make no mistake every cat I have ever had is a cold blooded killer. One big reason to have one they will get rid of rodent problem alot safer then having someone come by and set poison out. My mother has a cat without claws that averages about one bird a week he is pretty impressive.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

What we need is a federal law that makes the shooting of feral cats legal. Have it include a hunting license that empowers the holder to terminate with extreme prejudice any feral cat they come across.

Have it make the prosecution of feral cat shooters a federal crime and set up an agency that behaves as badly as certain alphabet agencies do to enforce it.

After they bounce the heads of a few local judges and assistant district attorneys on the roofs of cars while arresting them and subject them to a nice perp walk for the news cameras, the rest will get the message.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

What we need is a federal law that makes the shooting of feral cats legal. Have it include a hunting license that empowers the holder to terminate with extreme prejudice any feral cat they come across.

Have it make the prosecution of feral cat shooters a federal crime and set up an agency that behaves as badly as certain alphabet agencies do to enforce it.

After they bounce the heads of a few local judges and assistant district attorneys on the roofs of cars while arresting them and subject them to a nice perp walk for the news cameras, the rest will get the message.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HammerGun wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Wow - Laura and Peter, why do you guys hate birds so much?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Maybe this is a little to sick of irony, but what if they made a feral cat falconary permit? then its a cat eat bird, bigger bird eats cat world.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from canislupus wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Cats rule. But like sociopaths, they should not be let outside.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

"My grandpa always said rabbit hunting if we saw a cat without a collar to kill it because they kill for pleasure." That's a juicy morsel of irony.

I understand the damage caused particularly by feral cats, and I hate that my neighbors aim for three litters a year to keep their rodents down, in the process overpopulating the neighborhood with feral cats.

That said, I'm still fond of cats, and I truly admire their hunting skills. I also regularly donate money to a local organization that traps feral cats - especially whole litters of kittens - spays and neuters them, then adopts them out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

The problem is really not your pet housecat (which will kill when outside the house) but the millions of wild, feral cats that have been dumped by their owners or pets who left the house and never came back....they revert totally to the wild and are efficient predators. The Audubon Society estimates 30 million songbirds are killed each year by feral cats...what they do to the quail, pheasant, and other game bird populations is devastating. I trapped feral cats for several months and received death threats from the lunatics at PETA...can't understand why it is wrong to trap free-ranging wild house cats, but it is ok for bird species to be wiped out by these killers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Payton Messmore wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

I dont like "some" cats! But i'm not saying if a stray came around I wouldn't practice my bow shooting!!! Haha

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I once had a cricket problem in a basement of a house that I was renting. It was a nice, finished basement, that mostly was used for laundry and storing. Couldn't get rid of the crickets so we got a young cat and put her down there. She was a cricket vacuum!

I like cats and all, but the ditch-tigers I see around the fields in Iowa get a .22 bullet or a 12 gauge. There is a difference between killing someone's pet and killing an invasive species.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I once had a cricket problem in a basement of a house that I was renting. It was a nice, finished basement, that mostly was used for laundry and storing. Couldn't get rid of the crickets so we got a young cat and put her down there. She was a cricket vacuum!

I like cats and all, but the ditch-tigers I see around the fields in Iowa get a .22 bullet or a 12 gauge. There is a difference between killing someone's pet and killing an invasive species.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from okie_goose_hntr wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

As Josh said earlier - 3S. Feral or someone who lets there cat run. Same treatment for the dogs that people let run. I am a half mile from my nearest neighbor and still get their dogs & cats. It amazed me how far a house cat will wander. Now the neighbor's cows eating my landscaping is a different issue - the deer eat my landscaping also.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kevst82 wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

I was taught to eliminate any cat that i see in the woods without a collar. My brother has a half lab, half golden retriever that brings wildlife that he has caught to the door(even adult quail). If a 90lb dog can catch as much wildlife as he does within a half acre area (contained with an underground fence), then I hate to imagine what a feral cat can do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Man this is getting a lot of press! The student who did this study was a UGA graduate, so naturally, I get an email on it about every couple of days.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 35 weeks ago

Cats are okay but it is the same old story. Be responsible with your pets. Cat or dog. Dogs chase deer and that's just as bad.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Peter J. Wolf wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

It’s disappointing to see so many news outlets swallowing in one in one gulp a press release plagued with errors, misrepresentations, and glaring omissions.

The American Bird Conservancy and The Wildlife Society claim, for example, that “bird kills constituted about 13 percent of the total wildlife kills.” Thirteen percent of HOW MANY? As the Athens Banner-Herald reported in April, “just five of the cats’ 39 successful hunts involved birds.”

That’s right: FIVE. Fifty-five cats, 2,000 hours of video—and just FIVE birds. Not so impressive when it’s put like that, is it?

And which species of birds are we talking about? Are these common? Rare? Native? Non-native? Etc. It’s curious that ABC and TWS, which claim to be concerned with the “ongoing slaughter of wildlife,” aren’t troubled by such “details.”

ABC president George Fenwick claims that “cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline.” Where’s the evidence? Certainly not in the KittyCam study!

Predators—cats included—tend to prey on the young, the old, the weak and unhealthy. At least two studies have investigated this in great detail, revealing that birds killed by cats are, on average, significantly less healthy that birds killed through non-predatory events (e.g., collisions with windows or cars).

As the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds notes: “Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide… It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations.”

Nobody claiming to have even the slightest regard for science would extrapolate from five birds killed in Athens, GA, for the purposes of developing a nationwide “estimate.” The fact that Fenwick is so willing to do so—and sell it to the public—says far more about the integrity of ABC than it does about predator-prey dynamics.

The ABC/TWS press release is just the latest installment in the long-standing witch-hunt against free-roaming cats. It’s difficult not to see it as an act of desperation—no surprise, really, from organizations whose position is supported by neither the science nor public opinion.

Peter J. Wolf
VoxFelina [dot] com

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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