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Study Finds Cats Hunt More Critters Than Thought

Study Finds Cats Hunt More Critters Than Thought

Bird lovers and cat owners have habitually been at odds with each other over the impact feline’s have on wildlife. A new study that says outdoor cats are little hunting machines in fur coats isn’t going to help relations.

Conducted by the University of Georgia and the National Geographic Society, researchers revealed that house cats who were allowed to roam outdoors killed an average of 2.1 animals every week.

Biologist Kerrie Anne Loyd and her team recruited 60 cats and their volunteer owners to participate in the study which took place on the streets of Athens, GA. The cats were outfitted with a small video camera around their necks each morning when they were let outside for the day. After one week the “KittyCams” showed that cats are good hunters.

Researchers found that about 30 percent of the cats killed animals, on the average of 2.1 per week. The cats brought home nearly a quarter of the animals they killed, ate 30 percent and left 49 percent where they died. Nearly 41 percent of the prey were lizards, snakes and frogs and 25 percent were mammals such as chipmunks and voles. Birds were killed 12 percent of the time.

“The results were certainly surprising, if not startling,” said researcher Kerrie Anne Loyd. “In Athens-Clarke County, we found that about 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful in capturing and killing prey, and that those cats averaged about one kill for every 17 hours outdoors, or 2.1 kills per week. It was also surprising to learn that cats only brought 23 percent of their kills back to a residence.”

Hearing the results of the study, the American Bird Conservancy took the findings of the UGA study one step further. The group projected the outcome to include all outdoor cats around the country and feral felines. Their predictions are staggering and fueled the fire that already exists between people who prefer birds over cats.

“If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy, the only organization exclusively conserving birds throughout the Americas.

Angered by the enormous numbers, Alley Cat Allies released a rebuttal today. The national cat advocacy organization said the claims of the American Bird Conservancy “grossly misinterpreted the new research being done at the University of Georgia.”

Kerrie Anne Loyd told Alley Cat Allies her study was not intended to extrapolate and project figures. In her one week study, the cats caught five birds.

“We studied pet cats, not stray cats and feral cats…We did not attempt to extrapolate wildlife captures beyond our study community,” Loyd told the advocacy group.

Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies said, “The American Bird Conservancy is… spreading fictions about outdoor cats and making wild ‘extrapolations’ about their imagined impact on other species. They’ve used unpublished data to fuel their extremist agenda of killing cats. But there just isn’t evidence that shows cats have any negative impact on bird populations.”

Whether you think cats have a major impact on wildlife and should be kept indoors or believe they should be allowed to explore their environment as nature intended, the results of the UGA study certainly widened the gap between cat owners and bird lovers. See the KittyCams website of photos, videos and data from the study to come to your own conclusion of this issue.

 

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Photo Credit: flickr

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361 comments

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1:36PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

Our cat Garfield hangs out in our basement....so far he has brought me 3 dead mice....1 live snake....1 dead snake ....a dead mole and has coughed up dozens of bugs I' d be afraid of what he'd bring me if I let him outside.

12:53PM PDT on May 4, 2013

Hi Cat W.

Love your comment: "Guess what else kills birds? Other birds! Birds eat smaller birds! Dear god what shall we doooo?!!! Lock up all the birds!"

And I would add that plenty of people kill birds, whether deliberately by hunting them or collaterally with motorised vehicles or by poisoning their food chain with pesticides is beside the point to the dead bird and the nestful of fledglings which are going to die of hunger after their caregiver has been eliminated.

Now comes your superb question: shall we lock up all the humans as well?
Or maybe just let nature take its course with the cats.
Eliminating predators isn't always a good idea, just ask anybody living close to a rookery.

12:36PM PDT on May 4, 2013

Guess what else kills birds? Other birds! Birds eat smaller birds! Dear god what shall we doooo?!!! Lock up all the birds!

SO sick of hearing that cats kill birds. They also kill mice and rats. If they were not out roaming around doing that, we could welcome the black plague again (when they murdered millions of cats, and the rat population went unabated.)

Seriously, get over it.

8:06AM PDT on May 1, 2013

I'm sorry, but I am tired of finding other people's cats in my back yard. They dig up my flower bed to lie in wait for birds that frequent my feeders and water fountain. I have had pets all of my life and believe that I am responsible for their behavior. They are domesticated animals and should not be allowed to roam free, especially in a city.

5:37AM PST on Mar 8, 2013

Cat Haters go jump off of your proverbial cliffs please now. You have beaten this subject into the ground for one reason and one reason only: to perpetuate your unreasonable hatred of one species of creature. Yes animals kill each other. This is part of life on this planet. If you need a cause to rally behind, there are plenty out there that could use the energy that is wasted on your hateful diatribe. Cats are cute and cats are killers. That is the way it is and all of your hateful nonsense will not change what millions of years of evolution put in place. Maybe you should take on Killer Whales for all the poor innocent fishies they take out, or wait I know...Sharks!!! they kill too should we cage them? lolol Lions, Tigers and Bears OH MY

12:48PM PST on Jan 26, 2013

Just found out my guy has been sharing the food that my neighbor puts out for the local strays. I knew he had a second job somewhere.

7:48PM PST on Dec 19, 2012

Kitty lives under the bushes in front.There are dogs in every yard! The only trouble I know about are fights over kibbles with other neighborhood strays.

6:02AM PST on Dec 12, 2012

Thank you Sharon, for Sharon, for Sharing this!

8:15AM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

Oh, and yes, I do so like to stir the pot when it comes to this nonsense...can't resist when faced with such misinformation! For new readers...volcanic comments and David O is here (Aug. 12) making ridiculous comments about cats and their hunting.. Maybe he wants to eliminate obligate carnivores/other carnivores from the wild as well as some utilitarian types do because...they hunt and kill prey animals causing suffering. Well, I know Mother Nature was not kind when she designed life on Earth...we all live off eating formerly living beings be they plant life or animals (his sentient beings) but who knows, if Mother Nature sees the error (?) of her way purrhaps she will return, redesigning the DNA of all living things on Earth so we then will eat only rock pate and never eat living plants or animals/birds/fish again. Here is an outrageous concept below, people wanting to kill all carnivores domestic or wild because they eat mice...rabbits...how did Nature get it so 'wrong?'
http://bioethics2010bu.blogspot.ca/2010/09/do-we-have-obligation-to-kill.html
Oh wow, David O does provide quotes re: prey animals suffering and how wrong Nature is...can you possibly get Captain Kirk to find you a nice plant planet where only herbivores, vegan and vegetarians exist? Earth was not designed with you in mind. He quotes:

"This will mean, at some point, changing the natural world in order to reduce the suffering that so many of its inhabitants now endure on a daily basis."

Human ar

7:10AM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

Ahh, the Care2 article that just keeps going and going and going...like the battery powered bunny of TV ads of old.

Sadly Amelia C., controversial articles, even flawed ones full of holes/misinformation such as this article will not be retired, but continually resuscitated. In the world of free enterprise controversy sells, people get agitated, annoyed, intrigued, frustrated and responding to the article...generating joy to the advertisers who are hoping we will glance their way when we comment on the articles...so no chance of saying bye bye to kitty cat misinformation.

The point of this article? To go where no man has gone before (going back in time to the old Trek where they weren't so sensitive to gender equality), New Trek-TNG, etc, is where no One has gone before---but I digress--to boldly go and misinform against the feline species 'cos one likes the birdies so much that the real facts so get in the way of....telling us (wrongly) that felines are monsters...watch out, it is getting near Hallowe'en, keep your cats indoors because some idiots out there, you all know the drill especially if you have a black cat(s) owning you. Start Star Trek theme, end credits...come back next week in the age before cable--30--.(For the journalist in you!)

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