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Cats Could Have Hunting Gene Bred Out Of Them Says Scientist, Which May Solve Your Dead Bird Problem

It may make more people want cats.

13/06/2016 10:20

As much as we love our cats for their wonderful qualities - purring, using them as a hot water bottle and that adorable slow blink - the thing we could probably do without is that moment they drag a stanky dead bird or mouse through the door. 

However, veterinarian scientist Dr John Bradshaw from University of Bristol, believes cats have become so domesticated, they could - in theory - have their hunting gene bred out of them.

Kay Maguire via Getty Images

Talking at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Dr Bradshaw - who is a feline expert said: "Worldwide we need a solution to cats going hunting for wildlife when they don’t need to. I think we are going to have to intervene.

"They evolved a habit we encouraged [catching mice] for 10,000 years and for the last 20 years we don’t want it.

"I think that as the planet gets more crowded, this is not an animal that can coexist with wildlife. There’s precious little enough wildlife as there is – it can’t share with the cat. That’s not sustainable long term."

Pet owners may have mixed feelings towards animals who have been genetically 'edited' but the academic said that as the cat's need to hunt is controlled by only 15 - 20 genes, it would be possible. 

Certainly in places like New Zealand, where the country is trying to protect its birdlife from predators, this may have a positive impact on the number of people owning cats.

“If people become more offended by cats bringing prey into their home then fewer people will want to have cats.

“Cats are such fascinating animals so that would be a pity," he said. 

The Daily Mail also reported him as saying that people could also encourage not to hunt in the short to medium term. 

"I think you have then taken away a bit of the catness of the cat but I think that’s unavoidable. We need to reserve those hunting territories for wild predators because they have nowhere else to go. Whereas our cats do have full nutrition."

 

Daniel Grill via Getty Images

Dr Bradshaw has spent 25 years studying cats and runs University of Bristol's Anthrozoology Institute. Previously, he has said that our constant pampering of cats was actually stressing them out. 

"If cat owners understood their pets better, they'd recognise the demands we're putting on them and how that manifests itself in their physical and mental health.

“Unlike dogs, the cat is still halfway between a domestic and a wild animal, and it’s not enjoying 21st century living," The Daily Telegraph reported him as saying. 

Although not much is known about the domestication of cats which began around 9,000 years ago, IFL Science wrote: "“Humans most likely welcomed cats because they controlled rodents that consumed their grain harvests,” Wesley Warren of Washington University says.

“We hypothesized that humans would offer cats food as a reward to stick around.”"

What are your thoughts about cats being genetically altered? Tell us in the comments below. 

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