Cats kill billions of small animals every year. The death toll includes birds and small mammals like rodents, according to a new study published by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute today, Jan. 29, 2013, in the journal Nature Communications as "The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States."
CBS reported, " . . . cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals, such as meadow voles and chipmunks."
Pete Marra is an animal ecologist with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the co-author of the study. He said the number of birds killed by cats could represent a whopping fifteen percent of the entire bird population.
The study took into account both free-range domestic cats, those whose owners permit them outdoors without supervision, and wild, feral cats. Although the domestic cats kill billions of animals estimated at 4-18 birds and 8-21 small mammals annually per cat, the feral cat population kills billions of animals estimated at 23-46 birds and 129-338 small mammals per year, per cat.
The discovery that cats kill small animals is hardly new. Last year, a study of 55 domestic cats outfitted with cameras revealed that the felines kill small animals, hide, swap owners and engage in other interesting behaviors when they are on the prowl. To learn more about the study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia, check out the video at the top of the page.
Were you surprised to hear that cats kill billions of other animals annually? Would you favor at total ban on cats like the one proposed in New Zealand recently?