One cat, one year, 110 native animals: lock up your pet, it’s a killing machine

Date: 14, May, 2020
Author(s):   Jaana Dielenberg, Brett Murphy, Chris Dickman, John Woinarski, Leigh-Ann Woolley, Mike Calver, Sarah Legge
Publisher: The Conversation

We know feral cats are an enormous problem for wildlife – across Australia, feral cats collectively kill more than three billion animals per year. Cats have played a leading role in most of Australia’s 34 mammal extinctions since 1788, and are a big reason populations of at least 123 other threatened native species are dropping. But pet cats are wreaking havoc too. Our new analysis compiles the results of 66 different studies on pet cats to gauge the impact of Australia’s pet cat population on the country’s wildlife. The results are staggering. On average, each roaming pet cat kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year, most of them native to Australia. Collectively, that’s 4,440 to 8,100 animals per square kilometre per year for the area inhabited by pet cats. If you own a cat and want to protect wildlife, you should keep it inside. In Australia, 1.1 million pet cats are contained 24 hours a day by responsible pet owners. The remaining 2.7 million pet cats – 71% of all pet cats – are able to roam and hunt. What’s more, your pet cat could be getting out without you knowing. A radio tracking study in Adelaide found that of the 177 cats whom owners believed were inside at night, 69 cats (39%) were sneaking out for nocturnal adventures.

One cat, one year, 110 native animals: lock up your pet, it’s a killing machine