A new study recommends that pet owners keep their cats indoors to limit the danger their pets may pose to wildlife.
Opening the back door and letting your cat outside may seem harmless, but these everyday outings can pose serious risks. Not only the animals they might encounter, but also cats.
The DC Cat Count survey, conducted by the University of Maryland and published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, looked at cat activity in 1,500 DC areas. The project collects data from 60 wildlife cameras to understand how cats overlap with wildlife.
According to their findings, some of the biggest concerns include the spread of diseases such as rabies and cats’ instinct to hunt and kill wild animals.
When allowed to roam outdoors, the survey found that house cats had a 61 percent chance of being in the same place as a raccoon, a 56 percent chance of encountering a Virginia opossum, and a 61 percent chance of encountering a red fox. Every encounter with these animals, as well as other wild animals, increases the chances that the cat will fight and bring rabies home.
The study also found that cats instinctively prey on small native wildlife such as chipmunks, mice, rabbits and groundhogs. As prolific hunters, these natural instincts can greatly reduce the biodiversity of an area.
Both domestic and feral cats pose a serious threat to birds in any area.
Peter Marra, director of the Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian Institution and author of Cat Wars: The Destructive Aftermath of a Cute Killer, was quoted by Smithsonian Magazine as saying, “Free-ranging homes Cats kill 130-400 million birds and 630-22.3 “birds” a billion mammals per year. “
The study concluded that cat lovers should take responsibility for keeping their feline friends indoors.
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