For cat lovers it can be difficult to accept that these adorable cats are responsible for the decline of wildlife and birds around the world, such as pigeons or sparrows, but also endangered species.
Although it is a very common behavior of these predators, it is important to know why cats hunt birds and what real consequences exist after this behavior. In this article we will solve your doubts, keep reading:
Why do cats kill doves and other birds?
The cats are natural predators and they hunt mainly to feed and survive. It is the mother who teaches young kittens the hunting sequence, a common teaching in wild cats but unusual in a big city. Likewise, regardless of their breeding, cats practice their hunting skills even if they are not hungry.
For that reason, even if a cat lives in a home where it is cared for and offers food, it can develop a strong hunting impulse, that will help you learn about speed, power, distance and pursuit.
It is common for mothers to bring dead prey to their puppies, for that reason many sterilized cats bring dead animals to their owners, mainly due to the maternal instinct of the cat. According to the study “Domestic Cat Predation on Wildlife“By Michael Woods, Robbie A. McDoland and Stephen Harris applied in 986 cats, an 69% of the prey hunted were mammals and an 24% birds.
Are cats responsible for the extinction of some birds?
It is estimated that domestic cats they kill around 9 birds per year, a figure that may seem low when dealing with a single individual, but very high if the total number of cats in a country is analyzed.
Cats have been cataloged as an invasive species by the International Union for Conservation, since they have supposedly contributed to the Extinction of 33 species of birds around the world. In the list we find:
- The Chatham Bellbird (New Zealand)
- Chatham Fernbird (New Zealand)
- Chatham Rail (New Zealand)
- Caracara de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Island)
- Hawfinch of the Bonin (Island of Ogasawara)
- North Island Snipe (New Zealand)
- Scapular Carpenter (Isla de Guadalupe)
- Perico de Macquarie (Macquarie Island)
- Pigeon-partridge of Choiseul (Solomon Islands)
- Maculoso Scraper (Guadalupe Island)
- Hawaiian Chick (Hawaii)
- Ruby Reyezuelo (Mexico)
- White-headed whale (New Zealand)
- King of Bewick (New Zealand)
- Xanicus de Lyall (Island Stephens)
- Piopio from South Island (New Zealand)
- Acantisita de scrub (New Zealand)
- Tórtola de Socorro (Socorro Island)
- Thrush of Bonin (Island of Bonin)
As you can see, the extinct birds all belonged to different islands, where there were no cats, and that is that in the islands, the endemic habitat is much more fragile. In addition, all the aforementioned birds became extinct in the 20th century, when the European settlers introduced cats, rats and dogs from their countries of origin.
It is also important to note that most of the birds on this list lost their ability to fly due to the lack of predators, especially in New Zealand, making them easier prey for cats and other animals.
Statistics: city cats vs cats in the field
The study “The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States“Published by the Journal of Nature Communications states that cats kill birds during the first years of life, when they are agile enough to jump on top of them. It is also explained that 2 of each 3 bird was hunted by stray cats. According to biologist Roger Tabor, a cat in a village will kill an average of 14 birds, while a cat in the city will only 2.
The decline of predators in rural areas (such as coyotes in the US), abandonment and great reproductive capacity of the cats, has led them to be considered a plague. However, other factors such as deforestation on the part of the human being has also favored the decrease of the population of autochthonous birds.
How to prevent a cat from hunting?
Popular belief suggests that put a bell a cat can help alert its potential victims, but the truth is that, according to the Mammal Society, birds detect the cat first through sight than by the sound of its bell. That’s because the cats they learn to walk without the peal of the rattle, so that the amount of prey hunted does not decrease. Also, it is not good to put a bell to our cat.
The only effective 100% measure to avoid the death of native species is keep the domestic cat indoors and create a security fence on our balcony so you can access the outside. It would also be convenient sterilize wild cats to prevent the population from increasing, a costly and very complicated task carried out by organizations around the world.
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