For years, animal conservationists have studied the impact that cats have on wildlife, and the results have been anything but pleasant. Our pet cats kill 2-10 times more wildlife than predators of the same size. The damage was estimated at 6.3-22.3 billion mammals and 1.3-4 billion birds per year. Since domestic cats hunt in a radius of 100m around their homes, their impact is relatively huge on the wildlife and birds in that area. As a result, researchers decided to study how pet owners felt about their pet cats’ hunting behavior to conserve wildlife and birds. From the different views collected by the research team at the University of Exeter, these five types of cat owners were documented, so find out which category best describes you.
According to Science Daily, Dr. Sarah Crowley, the lead author of the study, found out that most cat owners in the UK value their cats’ outdoor access hence are against keeping the felines indoors to prevent hunting. Among those who supported outdoor access are the concerned protectors. They love their felines and do everything they can to keep them safe because they worry about them being stolen, killed, or getting lost during their adventures. However, regardless of how protective they are of the pets, they would not limit the cat’s freedom to curb their hunting impact on birds and wildlife because the satisfaction of the felines comes first.
These cat owners are liberal about their cats’ behavior; thus, do not believe anything should restrict the felines from doing whatever they please. They opine that the domestic cats are naturally adapted to hunt wildlife and would not want to limit their outdoor access. Besides, they believe it is their cats’ responsibility to check on the rodents’ population within the neighborhood.
Ever come across a parent who knows their child is on the wrong but will still support the kid’s behavior? If you have, then you probably have an idea about how tolerant guardians behave. In the case of cat owners, such humans know that it is wrong for a cat to be hunting wildlife due to the negative impact. They even know that a cat can get injured during his hunting sprees, but since they also know that their cats are born to hunt, tolerant guardians prefer to leave them to their own devices. After all, they reason, the benefits the felines get from hunting outweigh the risks they face during the adventures.
A caretaker is responsible for maintaining property’; similarly, conscientious caretakers, as cat owners, feel they should manage their pet’s behavior. They acknowledge that a cat is adapted to hunt and do not mind them going into the wild for a kill. However, their conscience gets the better of them as they want to control their hunting impact, especially on birds, according to Treehugger. They feel it is up to them to understand what their pet’s do to the wildlife hence are responsible for the negative consequences.
Anyone who has been to a management class knows about the Laissez-faire manager. He remains in the background allowing team members to make most of the decisions. Regarding cat ownership, a laissez-faire landlord refers to the human who will not be bothered by the cat’s actions; if they want to hunt, well and good, and even if they are hurt, that comes with the hunting decision. The cat owner leaves the cats to decide what they want, and since he remains in the shadows, he does not care about the impact on wildlife that his feline’s hunting behavior has.
What to Do About Your Cat to Protect Wildlife
As published by Ecology for The Masses, some cat owners do not see the impact felines have on the environment. Even when presented with scientific evidence, they choose to disregard it as one person tweeted that feral cats are the problem and not his outdoor cats. However, as per the article, the bottom line is that outdoor cats are bad for the environment. It is up to you as the owner to acknowledge the ecological damage they have and do something about it.
One of the measures suggested is allowing the cats to remain indoors when wildlife and birds are active, usually during early mornings. Chicks that are yet to learn to fly are vulnerable at such hours. Locking the felines inside all day is not an option because animal experts believe the outside world is essential to promote our furry friends’ mental well-being. Additionally, cat owners are encouraged to spay and neuter their pets to control their population and encourage cats to stay closer to home.
Unfortunately, although scientists agree that keeping domestic cats indoors is one way to maintain wildlife population, JSTOR Daily suggests that coyotes are also an option since they are natural predators for outdoor cats. Depending on the type of cat owner you are, you will find the solution that sits best with you.
Outdoor Cats Have More Ecological Impact
DW explained how your cat is killing the earth. One of the ways is through the carbon effect. In 2017, a geography professor at UCLA estimated that American dogs and cats produce 64 tons of carbon dioxide per year due to the meat-based diets they eat. The high level of carbon dioxide generated, in turn, result in the greenhouse effect and global warming crisis we are currently facing. While we may love the hybrid cats due to their uniqueness, allowing cats to roam outside in the wild increases cross-breeding chances between domestic cats and wild cats. As a result, hybrid cats continue to populate the earth. The consequence is the loss of genetic singularity found in wild cats, and the population of wild cats, therefore, is at risk.