Birds and Cats
There are about 90 million cats in the United States. 40 million are free to roam outside. This is not good news if you are a bird!
Cats are not a natural part of the ecosystem and compete with native predators.
Extensive studies show that approximately 60 to 70 percent of the wildlife cats kill are small mammals, 20 to 30 percent are birds, and up to 10 percent are amphibians, reptiles, and insects.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin coupled a four-year cat predation study with data from other studies, and predicted a range of values for the number of birds killed each year in the state. By estimating the number of free-ranging cats in rural areas, the number of kills per cat, and the proportion of birds killed, the researchers calculated that rural free-roaming cats kill at least 7.8 million birds and perhaps as many as 217 million birds a year in Wisconsin.
Well-fed Cats Do Kill Birds: Well-fed cats kill birds and other wildlife because the hunting instinct is independent of the urge to eat. In one study, six cats were presented with a live small rat while eating their preferred food. All six cats stopped eating the food, killed the rat, and then resumed eating the food.
Cats With Bells on Their Collars Do Kill Birds: Studies have shown that bells on collars are not effective in preventing cats from killing birds or other wildlife. Birds do not necessarily associate the sound of a bell with danger, and cats with bells can learn to silently stalk their prey. Bells offer no protection for helpless nestlings and fledglings.
Cats are not ultimately responsible for killing our native wildlife--people are. The only way to prevent domestic cat predation on wildlife is for owners to keep their cats indoors!
The American Bird Conservancy
has created a program called "Cats Indoors!"
Keeping Cats Indoors is for the Cats...
The average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is just two to five years, while an indoor cat may survive for 17 or more years. Cats who roam are constantly in danger...
Cars - Millions of cats are run over by cars each year. Seeking warmth, outdoor cats crawl into car engines and are killed or maimed when the car is restarted. Motorists risk accidents in attempting to avoid hitting free-roaming cats.
Animal Attacks - Torn ears, scratched eyes, abscesses, internal injuries, diseases, and sometimes death result from encounters with dogs, other cats, and wild animals like raccoons, coyotes and foxes.
Human Cruelty - Each year, animal shelters and veterinarians treat cats who have been shot, stabbed, or set on fire. Unsupervised cats may also be captured and sold to research laboratories or used as “bait” to train fighting dogs.
Overpopulation - Unaltered free-roaming cats are the single most important cause of cat overpopulation. As a result, millions of cats for whom there are no homes must be euthanized each year.
Disease - Cats allowed outdoors risk exposure to fatal diseases, including rabies, feline leukemia, distemper, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Vaccines are not 100 percent effective.