It’s an ethical dilemma for conservation – you take in a rescue cat but it kills birds and mammals. Now there’s no way I’m getting rid of my baby girl Lyra and I’m not suggesting anyone does, but we should acknowledge that our domestic cats are predators and they kill birds.
The Mammal Society reports that cats kill around 275 million animals a year. There are around 8 million domestic cats in the UK, along with a further 1 million feral cats, and their kills break down as such:
- 200 million mammals
- 55 million birds
- 10 million reptiles and amphibians
That’s an animal every 10 days per cat.
Don’t forget that this is just the number of dead creatures the cats brought home to their owners or were discovered within their patrol during the time the survey took place; the figures could be higher. However, judging by my cat’s attitude I doubt it’s much higher – she wants me to see her prize kills. She shows off about it.
It’s not all as bad as it sounds; the RSPB suggest that there is some evidence that cats tackle weak or sickly birds who would not survive another breeding season, and many other birds die through predation by other animals or from other causes, including starvation and disease. The RSPB says there is no evidence to prove that cats killing birds is having a significant effect on bird populations in the UK.
We can, however, make sure we manage things better. The advice:
- don’t let your cat out at dusk or dawn
- place bird feeders in high positions that your cat can’t reach
- get your cat neutered so it doesn’t contribute to the stray cat population
- place your nesting boxes out of the way of cats
- keep your cat’s instincts active and satisfied through play with toys
- attach a collar with a bell to your cat (they won’t be impressed by they won’t mind it and it will warn birds of their presence)
But what about when all your preventative measures fail and your cat’s just too good a hunter and catches a baby bird and tries to bring it indoors as mine did today?
Some advice taken from Help Wildlife:
|If the bird has been caught by a cat.|
|Any bird which has been bitten by a cat, regardless of its age, will need rescue and treatment. There are bacteria on cat’s teeth which will pass into the bird’s bloodstream when it is bitten. Without antibiotics within a few hours of the attack the bird may develop fatal septacaemia. Urgent action is required here.|
If, however, it’s a baby you manage to rescue and it doesn’t seem too badly hurt or bitten, hide it away in a bush and keep your cat inside – the baby’s parents will be nearby watching and will keep an eye on it so it can rejoin them when it has recovered from the shock.