If your cat does not often bring any dead prey home, you may have always believed that he has no interest in hunting. However, a new study suggests that this may not be the case. A recent study carried out by the University of Cape Town and published in the Global Ecology and Conservation journal found that 82% of prey that is killed by cats is not bought home afterwards. The study was carried out by monitoring cats in South Africa, but their behavior is likely to be the same as other domestic cats in other parts of the world.
Cats Are Highly Likely To Be Killing But Not Bringing The Evidence Home
As part of the study, the prey that 105 suburban cats bought home was monitored by their owners for a period of ten weeks in the summer and six weeks during the winter. More than 20 of these cats were monitored further through the use of tiny cameras that were attached to their collars. It was discovered that the cats who had cameras attached to them killed far more animals such as mice and birds while they were away from the home, than they bought back with them. It is believed that there are several reasons for this. The first could be that they find the animal that they have caught unappetizing and they have no desire to take it home and finish it later. In the case of small mammals such as mice, they may consider it to small to be worth the effort of eating.
If your cat does bring an animal they have caught home, you may notice that it is larger creatures such as birds that they bring home most often. This may be because they wish to return to finishing eating at a later point and so they decide to bring the animal home with them. However, because they are fed by their owners at home, they often end up just leaving the prey. This is similar to the behavior of big cats in the wild who may leave the carcasses of their prey in the trees so that it is there for their next meal.
Other Studies Have Shown The Same Pattern
Whatever the reason for the cat not bringing the dead animal home, this study shows that animals being hunted and killed by cats is far more prevalent than many people were aware of. The University of Cape Town news site gives details of the study, including the fact that a single cat can kill anywhere between 59 and 123 animals in just one year. The number of these kills that they are bringing home could be as low as single figures. This study confirms the findings of a study by the University of Arizona State, which also monitored the hunting behavior of cats using cameras. This study estimated that 77% of the animals that cats killed were not bought home, and so the figures are not widely different. This furthers the opinion that the rate at which cats hunt and kill prey is largely the same all over the world.
Hunting Can Have Serious Consequences For Local Eco-systems
While the hunting that is carried out by cats may not be something that you ever think about, even as a cat owner, that is not to say that it does not have consequences. The effect on the local wildlife can be quite severe. It is estimated that over 60 species of mammals, birds and reptiles are now extinct because of being hunted by cats. According to the American Bird Conservancy, hunting by cats is the biggest threat to birds in the United States and Canada. Even cats that are well fed will still hunt and kill because it is in their nature. This can have a negative impact on biodiversity all over the globe.
What Can Owners Do To Stop Their Cat Hunting?
There are steps that owners can take to reduce the amount of animals that their cats hunt while they are out of the home. Placing a bell on your cat’s collar gives a warning to potential prey that the cat is approaching. Cats are also more likely to hunt at night so they should be kept indoors at this time and be allowed to go out and explore during the day. It is also a good idea to keep them in for sunrise, as this is the time when birds are most active. Another idea is to place a large enclosure in your garden for your cat to use. This will give them the freedom of being outside but you are able to see what they are doing and there is no risk of them wandering off. It is incredibly difficult to stop your cat from hunting altogether because it is something they have a natural instinct for. Protectapet suggests that you could encourage them to hunt for things other than live prey. This can be done by placing your cat’s food in different locations around the home, so they have to go searching for it.
The issue of cats hunting for prey is not one that can be easily dealt with. There are things that owners can do to reduce the likelihood of their cat killing an animal, but this needs to happen on a global scale to really make a noticeable impact. The study that was recently carried out in South Africa is important because it helps to highlight the scale at which cats are hunting. It makes owners think about what their cats may be getting up to when they are away from the home, something that they may not have considered before because their cats were not bringing any prey home. The research had also been welcomed by animal charities who work to protect the species that are most likely to be hunted. It is hoped that increased awareness of the things that owners can do will prevent any further species becoming extinct through hunting.