Cats Kill Billions Of Birds

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | January 30, 2013 11:29 PM EST

Never trust the cool and composed demeanor of a silent cat for, like any other member of its family - lion, tiger, leopard and more - it can take many more lives than previously known.

Cats are found to be responsible for killing billions of birds and mammals, according to a new study which has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Until hitherto, cats were thought to have a "negligible" cause for deaths of birds and mammals compared to other human-linked threads. The study led by Scott Loss at the Migratory Bird Center of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C reveals that cats may kill up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals in the United States along each year.

The study co-authored by two other U.S scientists revealed that apart from the United States, the cats are likely to have killed a huge number of birds and mammals in every part of the world where free-ranging cats occur. "The magnitude of wildlife mortality caused by cats that we report here far exceeds all prior estimates" reads the paper.

The study was conducted by combining and analyzing as many related studies as possible about cats preying on birds and mammals in North America. Although it was difficult to put estimation on the population of the killer-cats, it was found that cats in US fed themselves with 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds a year. Considering that the total population of birds in the entire North America is just 10 to 20 billion, the trend is thought to display a scary picture.

Although the stray cats are mostly found to be the cause for these deaths, the report warns that it would be an error to judge the pet cats as innocent. They too prey on 1.5 billion birds and 2.5 billion mammals. There are about 30 to 80 million feral cats in the U.S. each of which is likely to kill at least 200 mammals a year, the report says.

The report concluded that compared to other causes such as automobile strikes, poisons and pesticides, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other "anthropogenic causes" more birds and mammals die in the mouth of the innocent-looking cats. The report suggests that pet cats should not be allowed to roam around more than other animals like a pet dog, horse or a pig and that cat owners insisting on their animal's freedom must be aware of the dire consequence their irresponsibility will invite. 

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