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Cats prey on young birds, rabbits & other newborn wildlife

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, June 24th, 2010 at 6:29 am in Babies, Birds, Cats, Cats killing wildlife.

Cat killing bird. Photo by Flickr user Andrew Currie used under a Creative Commons License.
Andrew Currie 2

Just received the following information (below) from The Wildlife Society (TWS) and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Please read it carefully and think about it. The lives of our cats, young birds, rabbits, squirrels, and other wild creatures are important.

We need to do all we can to make sure they are safe. Thanks for caring. /Gary

Cat with dead bird. Photo by Flickr user Andrew Currie used under a Creative Commons License.
Andrew Currie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Young birds, rabbits and other newborn wildlife are easy prey for cats

As young birds, rabbits and squirrels venture from their nests in early summer in their usual vulnerable and generally defenseless state, The Wildlife Society  and American Bird Conservancy  remind cat owners that even the most well-fed domestic cats pose serious threats to these small and newly born wildlife. At the same time, free-roaming pets also face dangers that can injure or kill them.

“Cats and other predators probably kill more wildlife this time of the year than any other because newborn prey not only don’t have any physical defenses but they also have not fully developed the danger awareness regarding predators that comes with time,” said American Bird Conservancy Vice President Mike Parr. “This is the most important time of the year for cat owner’s to restrict outdoor activities of their pet,” he said.

“It’s also a common misconception that domestic cats can live easily outdoors,” says Michael Hutchins, Ph.D., Executive Director of TWS. “Well-meaning owners often think it’s okay to let them roam because cats seem independent by nature. And while they don’t always need the same care as dogs, the truth is dramatically different.”  Free-roaming or feral cats are at risk of early death or serious injury due to diseases, cars, poisons and predators such as dogs and coyotes.

Outdoor cats typically live less than five years, whereas cats kept exclusively indoors can live to be 17 years or older.

Cats kill baby squirrels (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek)
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TWS biologists have long agreed with colleagues at American Bird Conservancy and state and federal wildlife agencies that domestic cats allowed to roam outdoors have serious, negative impacts on wildlife populations. Even cats that live outdoors part-time pose threats.  “Outdoor life is often hard on cats; it’s also tough on native wildlife,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of ABC.

Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that nationwide, cats kill millions of birds and small animals each year including mammals (rabbits, squirrels, small rodents), reptiles (lizards, skinks) and amphibians (frogs, salamanders).

Birds whose natural movements include time on or near the ground are susceptible, especially those that breed or nest on the ground. Typical prey for cats includes robins, finches, jays, quail, and towhees. In addition, young wildlife are often most vulnerable as they do not have the experience to avoid cats or the ability to quickly escape harm.

“The top cause of declining bird populations is that their natural habitat is being lost to development, Hutchins notes. “Domestic free roaming and feral cats are close behind. It’s hard for many cat owners to believe their pets are predators, since we are not usually around to see them in action.”

People often believe that cats won’t hunt if they’ve been well fed. Research shows that cats instinctively hunt, no matter how much they’ve been fed, because the hunting instinct is independent of the urge to eat.

Quail often killed by cats (Joe Oliver/Walnut Creek)
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“People can do something to help native wildlife in their backyards, and it will likely help their pets live longer,” concluded Parr. “We advise cat owners to spay and neuter their pets, and protect them by keeping them indoors, on leashes, or in outdoor enclosures.”

Affordable products and helpful information make it easy to keep pets contented indoors with a minimum of hassle. Information and resources can be found on the ABC website at http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/index.html

About The Wildlife Society

TWS is a scientific and educational organization dedicated to enhancing the ability of wildlife professionals to conserve diversity, sustain productivity, and ensure the responsible use of wildlife resources for the benefit of society.  TWS also is an advocate for science-based wildlife policy. For more information visit http://joomla.wildlife.org/

About the American Bird Conservancy

American Bird Conservancy conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator. For more information visit http://www.abcbirds.org/

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5 Responses to “Cats prey on young birds, rabbits & other newborn wildlife”

  1. Tweets that mention Cats prey on young birds, rabbits & other newborn wildlife | Gary Bogue -- Topsy.com Says:

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  2. Barbara Says:

    Note to ABC VP Mike Parr: Thanks for including “other predators” as potential killers of baby birds. Cats, absolutely. But so do skunks, opossum, raccoons, roof rats and other animals that also eat bird seed.

    I would encourage anyone with bird feeders, who notices a nest with baby birds in their yard, to make a special effort to keep the area clean to minimize “nocturnal visitors.”

  3. Bird Alert Says:

    Bird Alert Cat Collars reflect UV light that birds are highly sensitive to, giving them a better chance of getting away from hunting cats and alerting other bird to flee. Designed by wildlife biologists and safe for cats.

  4. Tessy Says:

    If the predator is a native, natural predator, then it is in the food chain with the ecosystem’s prey. However, in nature, predator populations are rare, not abundant. Many native species are simply being preyed into extinction because of introduced, invasive predators like the domestic cat and natural predation, combined.

    Racoons have done exceedingly well with the human population, thus their populations are larger than ever, and though a natural American predator, unlike the domestic cat, they take too many of our native birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, the strands in the web of all life, as well.

    A wolf killing a deer is natural and ecologically healthy; a cat killing an endangered least tern is anything but natural and deadly to the ecosystem. Many species are being hunted into population losses and extinction because of too much predation!

    As ecosystems control and govern every aspect of all life on the Earth, all domestic cats need to be House cats for the safety of the Earth and the continuum of all life.

  5. Wendy Says:

    WHERE do you get these Bird Alert collars!!! I keep reading about these UV light reflecting collars on the internet, but have not found any info on where to get one. Please help!!! Someone has threatned 2 kill beloved catfriends of mine,if any more bird deaths. I love birds, and all Gods creatures.I prayed to Jesus for help, and very soon afterwards the words “Bird Alert” came into my mind, I never heard of this name in my life and knew in my heart they were cat collars, so I did a search, and sure enough there’s a cat collar called “Bird Alert”.The holy spirit of God is telling me they work.I live on the island of Kauai, where cat’s are rapidly multiplying, and there are many concerned environmentalists.These collars could be well received here, and prevent the killing of many of our animal friends. please help ASAP. Wendy

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