The domestic cat – a charming companion and killer of biodiversity

What is an invasive species? The National Wildlife Federation defines it as any type of living organism — animal, plant, even bacteria or fungi — that is not native to a particular ecosystem and causes damage to it. domestic cats fit perfectly into this definition and are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the 100 most invasive species in the world.

It is estimated that cats kill each year in the United States alone over a billion birds and over six billion other small animals. This is far more than deaths from human causes, such as wind turbines, power lines and car collisions. A global study published in March 2020 found that domestic cats kill 4 to 10 times more wildlife per hectare than comparable native predator species. In all, these adorable pets have led to the extinction of as many as 33 species.

Take good care of your cat. Tetrapods have pushed dozens of species to the brink of extinction

“Forget this common argument that domestic cats simply play the same role in the ecosystem that would otherwise be played by natural, native predators,” according to these statistics on the website of Stetson University in Florida, Florida. Arie Wedding ChestAssociate Professor of Environmental Law at Tilburg University.

In addition to killing endangered bird species, negative the impact of cats on ecosystems involves something like a fear effect – one study found that placing a cat briefly near a blackbird’s nest reduced their youngsters’ subsequent feeding by a third. In addition, cats compete with other wild animals such as owls for small prey. These animals also spread diseases such as rabies. In 2014, according to the CBS News portal, cats accounted for about 60 percent of pets contracted rabies. In Poland, however, there was a rabies epidemic in Warsaw this year, in connection with which an order was introduced to vaccinate these animals.

Like almost all invasive species, so do cats fast reproduction speed† Females can breed as early as six months of age and breed every four months, producing up to 12 kittens a year. In the past 40 years, the number of domestic cats in the United States has tripled. While it is difficult to accurately count the number of feral cats, it is estimated that there are currently at least 30 million in the United States. There, another 40 million domestic cats have regular access to outdoor areas.

In Poland it is according to some estimates about 3 million homeless cats and dogs.

Domestic cats also affect feral cat populations, such as our native cats wild catsby crossing with them to influence the gene pool of a species.

Cats take the easy way out when eating, but not because they are lazy

How to solve this problem? First of all, cats should be sterilizeand second, it’s definitely best to keep them inside and not leave them out at all. A domestic cat can certainly meet all its behavioral needs by staying at home all the time.

In the case of homeless or feral cats, it is necessary to develop effective mass sterilization programs and shelters and enforcement of these obligations by local authorities.

In Poland, according to The Animal Protection Act Municipalities are obliged to give shelter to homeless cats, to care for free-living cats, to catch homeless cats, to find their owners and to finance the sterilization and neutering of both homeless and owner animals from their own resources. In practice, however, municipalities often fail to meet their obligations under this provision.

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