One of the most underrated threats for our local ecosystems has been allowed to go unchecked for too long. And there’s probably one near you right meow. I don’t want to alarm you, but it could be anywhere, on your lawn, inside your house, under your bed… it could even be on your lap right now as you are reading this. That’s right, I’m talking about the domestic cat. I’m sure Mr. Mittens is incredibly cute and cuddly, but he could be terrorizing your neighborhood without your knowledge. It’s not his fault, of course, he’s just following his instincts. But, the cat’s out of the bag now and we’ve got some ‘pawsitive’ news.
One of the stronger instincts for cats is to hunt. It doesn’t matter how well-fed your cat is, he will still want to hunt and kill prey. Even if you give Dr. Fluffkin home-cooked meals every day, he will still go outside and ruthlessly murder some birds. And probably won’t eat them afterward. Studies have shown that cats are killing billions of animals every year, which makes them a hazard for local wildlife.
Studies estimate that cats are responsible for the deaths of up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals each year in the US alone. Globally, 33 species were drove to extinction by cats. Stray and feral cats are the worst offenders, but pet cats are not free of blame. Luckily, there are ways in which you can mitigate the effect of your pet in the local environment.
First of all, you can keep Princess Furrypaws indoors. This will stop her from killing birds, squirrels and rabbits. This will also keep your cat safe, away from cars, other animals and cruel or careless people. If you want to let your kitty enjoy the sun and fresh air, you can always get him a leash and a harness, and take him outside under your supervision. It will probably take a while until your cat is used to the leash, but it can be done. Simply make him wear the harness for a few minutes a day until he moves normally, and then add the leash to the equation.
If you don’t want to use a leash and your cat still goes outside, then you can try buying a well-fitted collar with a big bell. This is by far the least effective route, but it has been proven that a bell can reduce a cat’s success when hunting by a third.
But wait, you say, Captain Whiskers never goes outside, he only hunts laser pointers and plastic mice. If that’s the case, then your cat is probably very eco-friendly, you’ve done your part to save the Earth. Just remember to play with your cat for twenty minutes every day to keep him stimulated and make him feel loved. Unless you’re looking forward to raising a serial killer kitty cat.