Smithsonian Study Reveals the Murderous Habits of Cats

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Smithsonian Study Reveals the Murderous Habits of Cats

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Cat advocates call the study "a continuing propaganda campaign to vilify cats."

Domestic cats are vicious, terrifying, natural born killers, according to a report by a team of Smithsonian biologists, confirming something any cat owner has known for years. Ecologists have long believed that domestic cats, both free roaming pets and feral cats, were one of the top causes for the decline in songbirds and small mammals in North America. The Smithsonian study alleges that cats are killing two to four times as many as previously believed, giving some bite to the ecologists' assertions. The study estimates that a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals are killed each year by free-roaming pets and feral cats. Additionally, it appears that the majority of predation was on native species like shrews, chipmunks, and voles - not introduced pests like brown rats (Rattus norvegicus).

The study operated by taking local and regional cat studies and scaling them up, then incorporating them into a predictive model for national scale results. "When we ran the model, we didn't know what to expect," said Dr. Peter Marra, who worked on the study, "we were absolutely stunned by the results." The results, in context, would make domesticated cats as an invasive species the largest anthropogenic (person-influenced) killer of birds and mammals. That's more dead animals than automobiles, pesticides, poisons, and collisions with buildings.

Some pro-cat groups quickly called out the study, calling it "part of a continuing propaganda campaign to vilify cats." Cat advocacy groups like Alley Cat Allies advocate a Trap-Neuter-Return policy towards reducing the feral cat's impact on the environment. They believe that capturing feral cats and sending them to shelters to be adopted, and if they are not adopted, euthanized, is inhumane. Wildlife biologists allege that TNR programs create populations of "subsidized super-predators" which survive in great densities due to human goodwill. The study appears in the January edition of the journal Nature Communications.

Source: New York Times

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This just in: Cats are adorable, murderous fiends.

Ones of people shocked.

They're not wrong by any means. Part of the reason I dont care for cats as a pet is they're a lot more solitary and territorial in general than dogs as a pet species. and I think there was once a cat that single handedly killed an entire bird species on an island.

though its not like the smithsonian society is saying they should all be round up and killed. This is basically a biological report on cats that anyone could tell you if you study them or even spend ten minutes with one.

Wow, that's news... Cats are hugely effective and efficient predators, probably one of the most dangerous predatory species on the planet. We needed this study to tell us this for sure... who knew? (groans).

Cats are one of the three major companion species to humanity, the animals most insturmental in the building of progressive human civilization, and perhaps the most important. The other two being the dog and the horse.

While there was a brief period during which cats were believed to be responsible for spreading disease, the bottom line is that cats have been domesticated to kill vermin and other small invasive animals that get into humans stuff. Rats being the classic reason for cats (slowing disease, preventing the rats from eating and infecting your food, etc...) but other animals like chipmunks, birds, etc... getting into your crops and seed were also part of it. Without the cat it's doubtful we could have ever built a lot of the communities and such we did as they were insturmental in protecting our health and infrastructure.

Today with less concern about such things, I suppose it's easy for the truely naive to miss the point, and realize that obviously cats in the wild fed on small animals, and subsisted this way as hunters and predators long before humanity brought it's own vermin and problems to some areas. Also the cats were brought along in many cases to deal with those kinds of indiginous animals (which are huge pests at a lower tech level) when "imports" weren't even a factor. There was a time when almost every household or farm wanted a cat or three, and most ships had one or more to help keep the hold and cargo free of vermin and anything else that might crawl on board.

I both see how this villifies cats, I mean anyone with half a brain knows that "Mr. Fluffy" is a predator, it's just cute because your so much bigger than it is (if you were smaller than Mr. Fluffy a cat wouldn't be so... adorable). Given the oppertunity a predator like this is going to kill any small food-like critter that it can catch that wanders into it's territory. This is what would happen if people weren't even around, it's nature. Sure chipmunks and squirrels and small birds might be "cute" but to a cat they are food.

As far as dealing with wild cats, I've always thought the issue is amusing to watch. As civlized as we are nature still exists, and even urban areas are full of rats, mice, and all kinds of nasty destructive creatures. In rural or even suburban areas these critters also tend to enter the area and can breed very rapidly. The whole "get rid of the cats" problem is an old one, when people tend to get annoyed by the sounds of wild cats fighting, making out, or getting into the garbage occasionally and such. The whole "OMG, it actually kills chipmunks and songbirds" seems fairly new as a complaint though. The thing is that when the cats are removed, the rats and such which breed rapidly come back, and represent an even bigger problem as even if they don't spread disease or get into your food, they chew through everything and cause massive property damage (greater than what cats generally do by clawing). Let to multiply and roam free small birds, squirrels, chipmunks, etc... get into everything, poop all over the place, chew, claw, wreck gardens, destroy fences, break windows, get stuck in machinery and everything else. There is a reason why most home and garden shops have traps, poison, etc... for killing a lot of these "cute" little animals. Having cats around killing this stuff tends to solve a lot of problems, and people tend to forget how rapidly a lot of these animals multiply.

Or in short this whole rant is me just not getting the issue, unless people really are that ignorant and don't think things through. I suppoe someone who has a cat or whatever but never bothered to read or learn anything about them, even so far as a pet shop "Your First Cat" owners guide, might not get it. Yes, cats are cute, with soft fur, but the sharp claws and pointy needle like teeth aren't there to be ornamental, they should make it kind of clear what purpose cats evolved for (to hunt and kill efficiently).

When I read the title, I thought it meant cats were killing people. What a relief that cats are eating birds and small mammals (unless you are a bird or small mammal). Who knew that cats, famous for killing the already mentioned, are killing them?

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/culturing-science/2013/01/29/killer-cats/

More info on how bad and invasive cats can be, on Scientific American.

Also that catch and fix programs for feral cat colonies don't work, they breed much faster than they can be caught. Reducing their number seems to be the only viable solution to maintaining the native wildlife population.

As someone who owns a cat that has repeatedly tortured mice and rats, I agree that cats are vicious little bastards. Once I found my cat sitting by a beheaded mouse, looking very accomplished with himself.

Though it's how cats are, and they DO have one of the highest kill rates out of carnivores. Heard somewhere that in the wild, most carnivores have successful hunts about 10% of the time. Domestic cats left to roam are close to 90%. Humans, yes, are often directly responsible for native songbird and small animals with pesticides, habitat destruction, etc, but...guys...cats are also really good at what they do. It's not unusual for me to find squirrels and birds around with cat-sized bite-marks near the neck. If you're going to look at reasons for decline of native species, then you look at ALL the reasons. Personally I'm not the biggest fan of outdoor cats. I don't like seeing corpses left on the deck or lawn, or them pissing on the cars (male cat urine smells awful btw, especially if they're not neutered), sounds of mating or fighting (really, I can't tell the difference sometimes), and them coming up to the living room window and fighting with my cat at the window.

Though killing cats like that isn't cool. Poisoning isn't a good way to go and if their bodies aren't removed and eaten by another animal, the poison just goes up and up through the food chain. Poisoning prairie dogs led to the deaths of many black-footed ferrets. I support TNR and other measures, though pet owners need to meet them halfway. Spay/neuter your pets, keep them inside when possible, and don't take on pets you can't take care of. A lot of feral cat populations are contributed by people abandoning their cats in the wild if they're moving, can't afford them, or just because. Responsible pet ownership will solve A LOT of things.

They are catching on to us... uh... well... I....

Catnip! It's catnip's fault! It is polluting the minds of young kittens everywhere and making them commit these atrocities!

They really should distinguish between feral cats and pets. Feral cats kill to survive, pets hunt out of instinct and often don't even kill the prey they stalk.

The best ways to tackle feral cats is neutering them, and at the same time imposing heavy penalties on abandoning pets while making bringing them to a shelter attractive. But most importantly, tax the breeders and the pet shops. Too many people purchase small kittens cuz cute, throw them out when they've become adult (and ussually don't behave because those owners were morons). And the breeders and pet shops are helping this to continue by providing people with cheap cats that haven't been neutered. Also conditions for the animals at commercial breeders tend to be extremely poor. You're basically financing animal abuse if you buy at a petstore.

Strict wellfare regulations and obligatory neutering for cats sold by breeders will fix this problem, and fix the problem of feral cats while at it.

They're miniature lions and tigers and panthers and jaguars.

They're good hunters?

Oh who would have thought.

Trap-Neuter-Return?

What the fuck? Cats aren't even a native species! Why the hell do you want to send ferals back into the wild after 'fixing' them?

Bu- but they're so cute, they couldn't be remorseless, unemotional, murderous fiends. Could they?

I could have told them that! Cats are adorable little fluffballs of murderous rage.

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Pictured: Trained killer. Also he's a communist.

We could all just keep indoor cats instead. Overall I find the cats that stay inside are calmer than the ones that continually go outside. Then, if cats aren't going outside, you'd have a much lower level of songbird deaths. Easy solution. Then, when they do kill, they could always use the "castle defense."

Not that any of this shows that cats need to be stopped. If anything this is a natural process of keeping populations in check, at least as natural as you can get with domesticated animals.

Frankly, I agree that TNR is utterly retarded. You basically have neutered animals roaming, and killing. They no longer have a purpose to their species, they have no purpose in life. And they are unloved. With no caring owner to snuggle them. It's a pretty sad existence. I believe just euthanizing them would be far better. For them, and for the wildlife.

I have always praised my boys when they come home with a fresh kill. Not so much when they manage to get it inside, or I walk outonto the grass in bare feet and end up stepping in mouse intestines... but I'm always proud they can catch things. Except baby bunnies. They aren't a challenge and they're too cute. And the screams they made are nightmare-inducing.

I believe cats should be allowed outdoors (where possible, not on busy roads or at apartment blocks), but I also belive strongly in neutering.

My cats have always been outdoor cats and lived long, healthy lives. Come spring this year (and every year the older they get), the prouder I will be if they bring something home. ... We also have lots of rabbits and voles in our area since we used to live by a field that has since been built on, so everything moved our way and it's caused issues.

Ed130:
Trap-Neuter-Return?

What the fuck? Cats aren't even a native species! Why the hell do you want to send ferals back into the wild after 'fixing' them?

Nachtmahr:
Frankly, I agree that TNR is utterly retarded. You basically have neutered animals roaming, and killing. They no longer have a purpose to their species, they have no purpose in life. And they are unloved. With no caring owner to snuggle them. It's a pretty sad existence. I believe just euthanizing them would be far better. For them, and for the wildlife.

Well, like the article says, some people find it more humane than putting them in a shelter, and in all likelihood, not be adopted (people like adopting kittens over older cats, and feral cats aren't all that friendly usually), and then be euthanized because no one is adopting them and chances are, the shelter is filling up so they have to either make room or not accept more homeless pets.

Neutering them and setting them back loose is sometimes seen as a better alternative because they're not needlessly killing a cat, the shelter isn't getting filled with animals that aren't likely to be adopted, they're helping to put a stop to the growing population of feral cats, and the cats can help keep down the mice/rat population.

"Lies Lies Lies!!!" is what my cats are telling me right now as I look over the article. They then kindly directed me towards a few pictures that cats are cute and loving creatures that would never harm other cute small animals

Nothing to see here people, move along.

Yeah, is this a surprise?

Not only that, but cats (and I'm a cat person) also can know they aren't supposed to do it.

Back when I had my cat who went outdoors, she would call for us when she caught mice, present them to us and only after we had praised her would she eat it.

But she learned we didn't like it when she brought us birds and didn't announce she had caught them...

She even brought in squirrels and once a weasel, but I interwened, it was more of a fight than she hunting it.
I love cats, though. As well as my ferret I now have, who is equally a killer.

She got a new toy for Christmas that unlike old toys squicked, and she went mental when she heard the toy 'be in pain'.

Blablahb:

The best ways to tackle feral cats is neutering them, and at the same time imposing heavy penalties on abandoning pets while making bringing them to a shelter attractive. But most importantly, tax the breeders and the pet shops. Too many people purchase small kittens cuz cute, throw them out when they've become adult (and ussually don't behave because those owners were morons). And the breeders and pet shops are helping this to continue by providing people with cheap cats that haven't been neutered. Also conditions for the animals at commercial breeders tend to be extremely poor. You're basically financing animal abuse if you buy at a petstore.

Yes, it's horrible how people abandon cats.
Here in Finland cats aren't sold in pet shops, but kittens are often available free.
And there is a thing called 'kesäkissa', a 'summer cat', meaning a kitten a family gets at the start of summer when they go to the countryside for the summer holiday, and then leave the cat there to die at the end of summer.

I've lived on countryside, and almost every year there was a cat left there to tend for itself by some random family living in the rented cottages. A friend of mine helped them, fed them and took them to the shelters, if she could.

But people like that make me really angry. How can you take a cat, knowing you'll leave it to face the fall and winter on it's own?

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Why would someone want to vilify cats? On the other side there are such things as cat advocacy groups? I live in a strange world.

redknightalex:
We could all just keep indoor cats instead. Overall I find the cats that stay inside are calmer than the ones that continually go outside. Then, if cats aren't going outside, you'd have a much lower level of songbird deaths. Easy solution.

Or only let the cat out on a leash.

I blame the guns and vidya games for turning our beloved pwecious wittle kittens into vicious little murderers.

In all seriousness, cats hunt for small animals all the time. Always have, always will. I've seen plenty of small dead mice and moles that my best friend's cat would kill and bring into the sun room to show it off. Why this comes as a shock to anyone is beyond me.

Ed130:
Trap-Neuter-Return?

What the fuck? Cats aren't even a native species! Why the hell do you want to send ferals back into the wild after 'fixing' them?

Nachtmahr:
Frankly, I agree that TNR is utterly retarded. You basically have neutered animals roaming, and killing. They no longer have a purpose to their species, they have no purpose in life. And they are unloved. With no caring owner to snuggle them. It's a pretty sad existence. I believe just euthanizing them would be far better. For them, and for the wildlife.

Simple: Because mice, rats, and various other vermin that are prodigious multipliers, incredibly destructive in high numbers, and famous for carrying diseases that can cross species barriers. A rat can chew through brick, concrete, even solid steel; when they do, they find food, make themselves at home, and start making babies (up to 24 babies per female every month. do the math)

Cats like very much to hunt such creatures & are very good at it.

It has been documented that increased euthanizing of stray cats is swiftly followed by an explosion in rodent populations

Damn it stop wasting our money on these pointless studies! >.<

All cat owners and home owners with feral cat population on the block already know this. All the headless birds/squirrels on the porch is testament to this.

Nothing is going extinct so I don't see the problem. Unless everyone wants a sudden and massive increase in disease carrying vermin No? Okay then.

Also for every cat I have had that's been a super hunter I have had a cat who couldn't find it's butt with it's paws.

redknightalex:
We could all just keep indoor cats instead.

I think I read in the BBC version of the article that all you have to do is fit your cat with a collar with jingly bells; it greatly diminishes their ability to hunt effectively. Also, you are always aware of where your cat is.

Also, the guy who said that dogs aren't territorial has never owned a German Shepherd before.

Moonlight Butterfly:
Nothing is going extinct so I don't see the problem. Unless everyone wants a sudden and massive increase in disease carrying vermin No? Okay then.

Also for every cat I have had that's been a super hunter I have had a cat who couldn't find it's butt with it's paws.

The problem is that they are hunting animals like birds as well, many species of which are on the decline. Also, many predatory birds rely on rodents, so they are diminishing their food supply. Again, these animals are endangered.

CrossLOPER:

redknightalex:
We could all just keep indoor cats instead.

I think I read in the BBC version of the article that all you have to do is fit your cat with a collar with jingly bells; it greatly diminishes their ability to hunt effectively. Also, you are always aware of where your cat is.

Also, the guy who said that dogs aren't territorial has never owned a German Shepherd before.

Moonlight Butterfly:
Nothing is going extinct so I don't see the problem. Unless everyone wants a sudden and massive increase in disease carrying vermin No? Okay then.

Also for every cat I have had that's been a super hunter I have had a cat who couldn't find it's butt with it's paws.

The problem is that they are hunting animals like birds as well, many species of which are on the decline. Also, many predatory birds rely on rodents, so they are diminishing their food supply. Again, these animals are endangered.

If there was a huge increase in cats you might have had a point but there isn't, numbers of both predator, prey and related species have been consistent in number.

Therefore it isn't a problem.

Cats have as much right to live as anything else.

Also they take their own collars off, which is a pain :p

ThriKreen:
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/culturing-science/2013/01/29/killer-cats/

No, NO! Bad Poster! Low content post. No treat for you.

Ed130:
Trap-Neuter-Return?

What the fuck? Cats aren't even a native species! Why the hell do you want to send ferals back into the wild after 'fixing' them?

Have you ever seen a feral cat up close? I have. They are skittish at best. At worst, they are downright aggressive. You cannot, nor should you want to, adopt them. If you catch them, fix them, then return them, they cannot reproduce and that will lead to an eventual decline in the population. True domestic cats live for about 15 years, ferals live for half that, so it doesn't take long for the population to decline and potentially even disappear.

Unless your question was pertaining to releasing them. The "wild" you refer to is actually wherever they were caught. My family did this exact thing with a few ferals some years back. They live in a semi-rural suburb (oh the contradictions!), so it isn't as though the cats are sent into the middle of nowhere. Also, having them around means that the neighborhood has never had a rodent problem.

RandV80:
"Lies Lies Lies!!!" is what my cats are telling me right now as I look over the article. They then kindly directed me towards a few pictures that cats are cute and loving creatures that would never harm other cute small animals

Nothing to see here people, move along.

Your cats have been feeding you lies for years. Under their fluffy exterior of properly-groomed fur...

Meow, I would not hurt a fly!

Okay, maybe I would. Shut up you!

Ed130:
Trap-Neuter-Return?

What the fuck? Cats aren't even a native species! Why the hell do you want to send ferals back into the wild after 'fixing' them?

Because they are wet-behind-the-ears, namby-pamby idiots who think that euthanizing/culling feral cats is some how less humane than stopping the hundreds of kills each cat will have to make each year to survive?

Zachary Amaranth:
This just in: Cats are murderous fiends.

Fixed for you.

OT: This further proves my lifelong assertion that cats do NOT make good pets. More like cult-leaders.

Er so...good?

I dont like mice and rats in my garage, so my cat would just pile them assholes up like firewood.

Cats are good at earning their keep, excelent pets, and so damn cute.

I need to get a new feline, mine is on her way out :(

Zombie_Moogle:

Simple: Because mice, rats, and various other vermin that are prodigious multipliers, incredibly destructive in high numbers, and famous for carrying diseases that can cross species barriers. A rat can chew through brick, concrete, even solid steel; when they do, they find food, make themselves at home, and start making babies (up to 24 babies per female every month. do the math)

Cats like very much to hunt such creatures & are very good at it.

It has been documented that increased euthanizing of stray cats is swiftly followed by an explosion in rodent populations

No, someone whose government utilises a multiple vector control plan that targets all pests and who have cleared out several offshore islands as well as some mainland sanctuaries of all invasive species.

Also if you bothered to read the entire article Zombie Moogle, it states that most of the cats hunting efforts catch natives instead of pests like rats and mice.

JonB:

Additionally, it appears that the majority of predation was on native species like shrews, chipmunks, and voles - not introduced pests like brown rats (Rattus norvegicus).

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