It turns out that little Tweetie Pie might have been right, at least for feral cats and those pet cats who roam both indoors and outdoors. A new study reported in this recent article in The New York Times, indicates that those beautiful felines are killing birds and other wildlife at an alarming rate. A report from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States (both free-roaming pets and feral) "kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 2.3 billion mammals a year..." Our scientific assessment of these startling numbers is "yikes"!
But most of the blame for these astronomical numbers is on the 80 million plus stray and feral cats in the U.S., but that doesn't leave cat owners, whose outdoor/indoor cats kill about 29% of the birds and 11% of the mammals blameless: "Most concur that pet cats should not be allowed to prowl around the neighborhood at will, any more than should a pet dog, horse or potbellied pig...[and] it's bad for the cats and can shorten the cats' lives."
Photo of one "bad ol' puddy tat" courtesy of James Morton for The New York Times
And as animal activists will tell you, there's a constant debate between the trap/neuter/release camp and the round 'em up and take 'em to a shelter camp, which this article frankly discusses. But Dr. Fenwick of the bird conservancy argues that "...far more effort should be put into animal adoption...and any outdoor colonies that remain should be enclosed, 'Cats don't need to wander hundreds of miles to be happy'."
What do you think about this debate? Are you shocked a the astronomical number of birds and other critters that are killed each year by cats? Let us know!