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Animals in the U.S face a formidable foe, cats, which are one of them but has killed billions of animals already, according to a recent study.

The study was done by the researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service and published in the Nature Communications. Dr. Pete Marra was one of the scientists from SCBI who was actively involved in the study.

The study estimates that cats have killed between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion mammals annually. The top in the list of killer cats is the stray and feral ones; however, the authors have also noted that pet cats also are into animal killing and urged their owners to be more vigilant to curb this habit.

Read more at http://www.counselheal.com/articles/3640/20130130/animals-u-s-kille...

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According to the study, cats in the US kill in the range of 8.3 to 24.4 Billion other animals per year. If the study's estimates are accurate, then cats kill as many other animals in the US as humans kill directly for food. Perhaps the first thing advocate for other animals ought to abolish is cats.

Without seeing how they did their research it's a bit hard to determine how valid the results are to this study. Cats seem to incite extremes in opinion among people, and I don't have a huge confidence in research if for example it was funded by some pet food company for example.

As a wildlife rescuer, I have seen problems from both cats ad dogs. Dogs tend to do worse harm as they naturally grab an animal firmly between their jaws and shake it. They go after possums, reptiles, kangaroo joeys and so on. Another huge problem is that dog owners often think it's fun for their dogs to chase wildlife, kangaroos i particular, so the damage is rarely seen. Many species suffer from capture myopathy which is a horrible and often slow way to die directly caused by the stress of being chased. The kangaroo will slowly stiffen up and will be seen to crouch over in pain until its heart gives out. This can happen over several day, weeks or months.

I know cats hunt, that's their natural instinct. As a person who has owned cats most of my life, they do generally hunt to eat. Given the zero nutritional value in cheap supermarket pet food I suspect many companion animals have nutritional deficiency, but that's an aside.

Issues surrounding cats require better management. But I do take issue with the bad press they receive when I know the terrible injuries wildlife receives from dogs. I wish there was a bit of balance in the discussion about companion and feral animals, as from my own experience dog owners are equally if not more likely to deny their dogs do harm, since everyone immediately points the finger at the cat.

According to No Kill advocate Nathan Winograd, the myth that feral cats impact American bird populations has been thoroughly debunked.

http://www.voxfelina.com/2011/01/revisiting-reassessment/

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Winograd sees it as a crime if a shelter euthanizes a dog or cat. But yet supports the routine slaughter of millions and millions of so called “farm animals” to feed the so called companion animals. He is also happy to see the decimation of millions if not billions of native wildlife at the jaws of cats. His TNR campaign is a holocaust to native wildlife in particular birds and small mammals. Anyone that supports no kill is supporting mass slaughter. 

Nath, there is evidence to support the article.  In Western Australia some time ago research conducted by the WA University actually showed cats are not responsible for anywhere near the numbers of deaths attributed to them. The research wasn't actually published in the end because it conflicted with business agenda, primarily farmers I think.  Here in Melbourne, a program to get rid of all cats on one of the islands to stop native birds being killed actually ended up with greater deaths of birds due to a rise in other predators that cats normally kill. 

The environment is a much more complex system than you apparently suggest. Here in Victoria foxes are also considered vermin with mandatory death when caught to safeguard wildlife, the same in most states. But if you go to the DSE website and take a look at the statistics for what has been found in fox stomach the actual wildlife, mainly possums, comes at the bottom of the list.

In fact there is evidence to suggest that ecosystems adapt very well, and quickly, when other species like foxes are introduced.

Nath's other point should not be overlooked, though.   The feeding of cats and dogs causes the abuse and slaughter of millions of farm animals.   Carnivores kill or get us to kill for them.

It is not so simple. I always have to wonder where this argument comes up and vegans start suggesting eradication or culling or sterilisation, but funnily I have never seen the human species included in their strategies.

The human race has been the greatest killer of all, both directly and indirectly through manipulation of the environment and destruction of natural ecosystems.  To be blunt, we have killed the planet, it is doomed.

Humans are the ones who created the problem, and human greed and behaviour is not going to change any time soon so we are not the ones who will fix the problems.

The best thing that we can do is to get out of the way of animals and sort out ourselves first, at least to eke out what life this planet has left in her.

I might add that where predators are removed, experience has shown it has a deleterious affect on the very animals who were supposed to be protected for many complex reasons.

One website has something on this issue: http://www.awfct.org/catsandbirds.htm

Hi Kerry, 

Do you have any information that I can read further about the programme in Melbourne you spoke of above, please? 

I'll try to get the correct source Carolyn and post. 

Interestingly today I went to a lecture at Melbourne Uni by a visiting Canadian Professor talking about the welfarist / conservationist sides.  He went through some past research and there were some really dreadful statistics.

One example, a transmission tower constructed in Wisconsin had incidents of hundreds of birds dying and falling at the base in one night. Over a very long period of time a researcher who attended every day eventually came up with a staggering number which to put in context equaled one Exxon Valdez (250,000) every fortnight.

Another study on birds estimated that 1 billion birds are killed in the US every year from striking reflective surfaces.

Thought provoking numbers there.

This article fairly succinctly explains the damage caused by culling all feral cats on Macquarie Island.

http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2012/09/wrecking-mac...

This is a Tasmanian issue, I know something similar here happened in Melbourne but can't recall the details, which I'll endeavour to find.

Thanks, Kerry! I look forward to reading the article! 

There was a mass extinction event we have all heard about when the dinosaurs died.  90% of animal species became extinct.  The next most major extinction event is not even on the list.  It is not recognised.  This would be understandable, things that happen millions of years ago might not leave a lot of evidence behind, but this event has the most evidence because it is happening right now.  In the last 10,000 years or so 75% of all species on this planet have dissapeared.  This coincides with the rise of human domination, though it is also argued to be something to do with climate change... something which happens naturally every few thousand years as the tilt of the earth changes, but as climate change happens on a 23,000 year cycle, and mass extinctions, 50% plus, have only occured about 6 times in the last billion years, it's quite coincidental that 100s of thousands (no exaggeration) of species continue to dissapear every year, usually regardless of the temperature outdoors and mostly attributable to the activity of humans.  This event is called the Holocene Extinction Event and will probably not be recognised until it can be attributed to climate change instead of humans.  What cats do is trivial.  The only environment a house cat could be the dominant predator is an environment where life has been decimated by humans.  Humans accusing other animals of killing a lot in such an environment is an ultimate irony.  Human irony is where this argument comes from.  We look at ourselves so closely we cannot see what we are, trees for the woods etc.
 
Kerry Baker said:

It is not so simple. I always have to wonder where this argument comes up and vegans start suggesting eradication or culling or sterilisation, but funnily I have never seen the human species included in their strategies.

The human race has been the greatest killer of all, both directly and indirectly through manipulation of the environment and destruction of natural ecosystems.  To be blunt, we have killed the planet, it is doomed.

Humans are the ones who created the problem, and human greed and behaviour is not going to change any time soon so we are not the ones who will fix the problems.

The best thing that we can do is to get out of the way of animals and sort out ourselves first, at least to eke out what life this planet has left in her.

I might add that where predators are removed, experience has shown it has a deleterious affect on the very animals who were supposed to be protected for many complex reasons.

One website has something on this issue: http://www.awfct.org/catsandbirds.htm

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