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Cat with bird

Many of us who love birds and wildlife also love cats. Unfortunately, our cats do serious damage when they roam freely. Both the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have found that bird and mammal mortality caused by outdoor cats is much higher than has been widely reported, with annual bird mortality now estimated to be 1.3 to 4.0 billion and mammal mortality likely 6.3 to 22.3 billion individuals. The very high credibility of this study should finally put to rest the misguided notions that outdoor cats represent some harmless, new component to the natural environment.

Because humans fairly recently introduced cats to our outdoor environment, our native species have not yet had time to develop natural defenses to these predators. One author of the study says, “The carnage that outdoor cats inflict is staggering and can no longer be ignored or dismissed. Native species make up the majority of the birds preyed upon by cats.

Solutions: The best solution is to keep our beloved cats safe inside. Some families build a “catio” for their cat. It’s an enclosed outdoor area, ideally accessible from inside. The cat can spend time outdoors without injuring wildlife, or being injured by larger wildlife, cars, dogs, or raccoons. Nor can the cat get lost.

FMI See our Info Sheet Cats Indoors: Good for Cats and Good for Birds