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One Billion Birds Per Year Are Victims of Cats' Natural Predator Instinct

Science News

According to scientists, cats kill more wild birds in the United States than originally thought, and they may be the biggest immediate danger to wildlife.

Domestic cats and feral cats, or strays, are causing a serious problem. Humans are tough enough on our animal counterparts taking away habitat and driving many to extinction. Most families have owned a cat, whether it be inside or out, at some point in their life.

Whether it's rabbit, squirrel, mouse, or bird those cats with any time outside will usually be seen with prey of some kind in their life. It's instinctive, they were meant to kill before we domesticated them over thousands of years.


The cats in America, including housecats that venture outdoors and those feral cats, will kill between 1.3 billion and 4 billion birds per year, according to Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Based on that observation, let's do some math.

One bird kill per week per cat, so 52 kills per year for one cat.

To make one billion kills, divide by 52 kills and you get the number of cats needed to produce those kills: 1 billion/52 = ~19.2 million cats.

The number of cats in the contiguous US is ~114 million, so if 17 percent of the cats in the United States killed one bird per week, it would make over one billion birds killed per year.

Further, if one divides one billion kills by 114 million cats, it would mean that over one billion birds are killed per year.

Based on this math, the numbers provided by the study are conservative efforts. Domestic cats aren't evil or necessarily bad, but their outside presence should certainly be limited.

Many don't realize how much of a problem this is right now. This study is birds alone, not including other wildlife that may suffer. As conservationists, we should responsibly lead this charge, mainly on feral cats.

These strays are a nuisance and efforts should be spent to contain them much more than they we do today. People often feel sympathetic toward them, which results in feeding them and letting them hang around. The knowledge and information on this current situation most certainly needs to be brought up more often.

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One Billion Birds Per Year Are Victims of Cats' Natural Predator Instinct