Cats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, a study suggests. The authors estimate feral cats are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.
Birds native to the US, such as the American Robin, were most at risk, and mice, shrews, voles, squirrels and rabbits were the mammals most likely to be killed.
Although stray, feral and farm cats, are responsible for the bulk of the deaths, domestic cats play a part too. The study suggests that a properly fitted collar with a bell will give their prey more warning.
The domestic cat's killer instinct has been well documented on many islands around the world. Felines accompanying their human companions have gone on to decimate local wildlife, and they have been blamed for the global extinction of 33 species.
A parasite carried in cat's feces is even killing sea otters when the hard casing is washed out through the waterways. The danger has been noted already for expectant mothers, who become infected while changing cat litter.
To act more responsibly, we should keep out cats indoors. That way, we reduce the chance of them being infected by eating contaminated birds or rodents.
My darling Siamese, Simba, died a lonely death in the fields close to our home when I lived in Robe, South Australia. He went missing one day, back in the 1970's. Our family of five searched for days. On the forth day, one of the children came running home to tell us he'd found Simba hidden in long grass under a tree. We took the comatose cat to the vet, but he died of dehydration and the poison from a grass snake. Must have been hunting. Wildlife had the last word.