Saving Native Songbirds One by One In Orange County California
House Cat Predation on Our Native Wildlife
With many species in danger due to habitat loss, predation by our house cats is yet one more hardship we humans impose on wild animals already struggling to survive.
While many cat owners may believe that their pet cannot possibly have a significant impact just because it hunts, the cumulative devastation of cat attacks on wildlife is substantial. Isn't hunting by cats a natural thing? While it may be instinctive for a cat to hunt, house cats are not native to North America and they cause an imbalance in the ecology of an area by killing so many wild animals. Because their population numbers are artificially large due to being kept as pets, cats are far more common that natural selection would normally allow native predators, such as fox or bobcat, to be. Predators are supposed to be rare, not abundant, in nature.
Cat predation can also negatively impact our native predators, especially hawks and owls. A study in Illinois concluded that cats were taking 5.5 million rodents and 2.5 billion other vertebrates from a 26,000 square mile area, effectively depleting the prey base necessary to sustain wintering raptors and other native predators. Cats have major advantages over native predators. Being well-fed, they are not vulnerable to changes in prey populations. In addition, pet cats are more protected from diseases, predation, competition, and starvation-factors that control native predators.
Unaltered cats are prolific breeders. In states with warm climates, a female cat can have up to three litters per year, with four to eight kittens per litter. Unlike many native predators, cats are not strictly territorial, keeping members of the own species out of a given area. As a result, cats can exist at much higher densities and may out-compete native predators for food.
Overwhelmingly, cat predation (including cat attack cases and animals orphaned by cats) is the single largest reason for admission to many wildlife centers. Even when external damage appears minor, there is usually massive internal hemorrhaging and soft tissue damage from crushing and even minor puncture wounds exposes the victim to over 60 types of bacteria known to exist in cat saliva. Unvaccinated free roaming cats can spread deadly diseases such as rabies, feline leukemia and distemper to wild cats and other wildlife.
Well-fed cats and cats with bells: Even well-fed cats kill birds and other wildlife. A cat's hunting instinct is independent of the urge to eat. Studies show that bells on collars are not effective in preventing cats from killing animals. Birds do not necessarily associate the sound of a bell with danger, and cats can learn to silently stalk their prey. Even if the bell rings, it offers no protection to young animals.
What about animals that escaped? Small animals injured by cats die unless they are taken to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately. Cats carry bacteria and viruses in their mouths and on their claws, some of which can infect a small animal quickly. An animal may also die from internal hemorrhaging or injury to vital organs caused by a cat attack.
Consider these studies:
In a study of radio-collared farm cats in Wisconsin, researchers Stanley Temple and John Coleman estimated that each year cats kill at least 19 million songbirds and 140,000 game birds in the state of Wisconsin.
A researcher at Point Reyes Bird Observatory in California, noted that there are approximately 55 million cats in the U.S., o f which 44 million are permitted outdoors, suggested that the toll may be as high a 4.4 million songbirds "PER DAY" in the U.S.
To learn more--American Bird Conservancy / Cat indoors site