Why do cats hunt birds?
For cat lovers, it may be difficult to accept that these adorable felines are responsible for the decrease in the wildlife of birds around the world, such as doves or sparrows, but also some endangered species.
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Although this behavior is very common in these predators, it is important to know why cats hunt birds and what real consequences there are with this behavior. In this article of YourCatCareguide, you can clarify all your doubts. Keep reading:
Why do cats chase birds like doves?
Cats are natural predators and they hunt mainly to feed themselves and survive. It is the mother who teaches the sequence of the hunt for the puppies, a common teaching in wild cats but unusual in large cities. Even so, regardless of their childhood, cats practice the hunting skills of hunters even when they are not hungry.
For this reason, although a cat lives in a place where a guardian cares for it, it can develop a strong hunting impulse that helps it learn about speed, power, distance, and pursuit.
It is customary for mothers to bring dead prey to their young, and for this reason many sterile cats bring dead animals to their tutors, which is due to the cat’s maternal instinct. According to the study ” Domestic Cat Predation on Wildlife ” by Michael Woods, Robbie A. Mendel and Stephen Harris applied on 986 cats, 69% of prey hunted were mammals and 24% were birds.
Are cats responsible for the extinction of some birds?
It is estimated that domestic cats kill about 9 birds per year , a number that may seem low if it is a single individual but very high if you analyze the total number of cats in a country.
Cats were cataloged as an invasive species by the International Union for Conservation, as they allegedly contributed to the extinction of 33 bird species worldwide. In the list we find:
- The Chatham Bellbird (New Zealand)
- Chatham Fernbird (New Zealand)
- Chatham Rail (New Zealand)
- Caracara of Guadalupe (Island of Guadalupe)
- Beak-oiled (Ogasawara Island)
- North Island Snipe (New Zealand)
- Colaptes auratus (Island of Guadalupe)
- Platycercini (Macquarie Islands)
- Choiseul partridge (Solomon Islands)
- Pipilo fuscus (Island of Guadalupe)
- Porzana sandwichensis (Hawai)
- Regulus calendula (Mexico)
- Sceloglaux albifacies (Nova Zelândia)
- Thyromanes bewickii (New Zealand)
- Stephens Island Lark (Stephens Island)
- Turnagridae (New Zealand)
- Xenicus longipes (New Zealand)
- Zenaida graysoni (Socorro Island)
- Zoothera terrestris (Bonin Island)
As you can see, the extinct birds all belonged to different islands where there were no cats, and in the islands, the endemic habitat is much more fragile. In addition, all the birds mentioned above were extinct in the 20th century, when European settlers introduced cats , rats and dogs brought from their countries of origin.
It is also important to note that most of the birds on this list have lost their ability to fly due to lack of predators, especially in New Zealand, so they were easier prey for felines and other animals.
Statistics: city cats vs field cats
The study ” The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife in the United States ” published by the Journal of Nature Communications stated that all cats kill birds in the early years of life , when they are agile enough to play with them. It is also explained that 2 out of 3 birds were hunted by street cats . According to biologist Roger Tabor, a cat in a village kills an average of 14 birds, while a cat in the city only kills 2.
The decline of predators in rural areas (such as coyotes in the United States), the abandonment and the large reproductive capacity of cats has made them considered a pest. However, some human factors such as deforestation favored a decrease in the population of autonomous birds.
How to prevent a cat from catching birds?
Popular belief suggests that placing a rattle on the cat may help alert its potential victims, but the truth is that, according to the Mammal Society, birds spot the cat through the sight before the sound of its rattle. This is because cats learn to walk without the sound of the rattle, which does not diminish the number of prey hunted. Also, it’s not good to put a rattle on the cat !
The only effective measure to prevent the death of autochthonous species is to keep the domestic cat inside and create a security barrier on the porch so that it can access the outside area. It’s also a good idea to sterilize wild cats to keep the population from rising, an expensive and very complicated task for organizations around the world to do.