Cats Are Responsible For Killing Billions Of Animals In The US, Warn Scientists

Cats are born hunters. So hopefully you’ve come to terms with the gifts of dead mice and birds little Fluffy periodically brings you.

After all, that’s what they do, right?

But the sheer scale of the slaughter may well cause you to raise any eyebrow.

Cats in the US are killing billions of birds and mammals a year

In the United States alone, cats are responsible for killing between 1.4 – 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 – 2.7 billion mammals a year.

This mind-boggling level of bloodlust – carried out by domestic animals, ferals and strays is the subject of a scientific paper published in the journal Nature.

"Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact."

It adds that more animals are dying at the paws of cats in the country than in road accidents, collisions and poisonings.

The research, which was carried out jointly by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, found previously “negligible” cat kill numbers had been largely underestimated.

"The magnitude of wildlife mortality caused by cats that we report here far exceeds all prior estimates," said the paper.

American Robins, mice, shrews, vole, squirrels and rabbits are at the highest risk of being killed, the study claims.

At risk: The American Robin is at a high risk of being killed by cats

Cats without owners are being held accountable for most of the deaths. There are about 30 million to 80 million feral cats in the US, each of which can kill upwards of 200 mammals a year alone, the study reported.

It suggests taking measures such as limiting or preventing cats’ access to the outdoors.

The report comes on the back of an interview with prominent economist and environmentalist Gareth Morgan, who wants residents in his native New Zealand to neuter their pets and start turning over strays to be euthanized.

In an interview with the New York Times, Morgan ignited controversy with his suggestion that cats should be gradually eradicated from his country.

Morgan claims that the feline is a "friendly neighborhood serial killer" that poses a serious threat to New Zealand's native birds and other animal species.

He added:

"Neutered cats still kill for pleasure, and unless research has shown that neutering projects fail to reduce the size of feral cat colonies materially -- the problem being that getting 100% neutering coverage is too expensive for people and so they disobey such laws -- abandoned kitten litters and feral populations actually rise. Birds are only one of the species at risk, we have heaps of unique skunks, geckos, and insects that also are under siege from the cats humans have introduced to these islands."

They may be bloodthirsty, but they can be cute...