PAWS Magazine

Issue 36, Winter 1998

Cats & Wildlife

Pet owners underestimate the impact domestic cats have on wild animals. Whether or not they are well-fed, cats instinctively hunt small birds and mammals. One pet cat may not seem significant but consider that there may be up to twenty outdoor cats per urban block. According to Lynne Frink in Wildlife Rehabilitation, 4.4 million songbirds are killed by domestic cats in the United States every day. These domestic cats are not a natural predator: they are a product of human civilization and their numbers are not affected by the availability of prey. They will continue to hunt and kill wild animals long after the same number of natural predators would have starved to death.

Fifteen percent of all the animals we receive are injured by cats. Many of these animals die due to systemic infections caused by the abundant bacteria in cat saliva.

The best solution to this problem is to keep cats indoors. Not only will the wild animals be safer, the cat will avoid many of the dangers he or she faces including cars and disease. An outdoor cat enclosure will allow cats to enjoy being outside without harming wildlife or encountering cars. If cats are let outside, be aware that spring and summer are when young, more vulnerable wild animals are fluttering or scampering along the ground. Placing a bell on the cat’s collar may avert some attacks, but supervising the cat while it is outside is much more effective. A Cats & Wildlife brochure and other resources are available through the PAWS Wildlife Center.

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