The deadly cuddly kitty

Gareth Morgan may be onto something as more evidence emerges of those natural born killers called cats:

For all the adorable images of cats that play the piano, flush the toilet, mew melodiously and find their way back home over hundreds of miles, scientists have identified a shocking new truth: cats are far deadlier than anyone realized.

In report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat. 

The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills and other so-called anthropogenic causes.

Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and an author of the report, said the mortality figures that emerge from the new model “are shockingly high.”

SOunds like we really need to ramp up cat-mageddon.


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  • David

    More hysteria. This is the sort of crap I’d expect from the Herald or Campbell Live not Whale Oil. “The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated…” Estimated? In other words, they guessed the number of animals they think cats are killing. This beat-up story proves nothing. Let’s see some documented evidence please. When are cat haters going to cut the hype and get some facts to back up their cases? What a joke!!

    • Arnie

      Of course the SPCA don’t estimate the number they think they kill. Yeah right. Having seen cats take out 2 monitored fantails nests this season, (1 cat from 2kms away) and seen 7 cats one evening on our few acres, the nearest house with a cat is 500m away. Yes they do do more damage than most think. Eradication? I say no, but more control (curfews) a definite yes.

      • There is a little copper coated lead pill that controls cats just fine. Administered once, they never roam and maim and kil again.

      • Bunswalla

        If a cat can take out a fantails’ nest from 2kms away, all I can say is he must be a fucking good shot. I think the US Army is looking for a new sniper, I’d say we have our winner!

  • JC

    2 billion birds eh? Well, thats less than 1 per acre.. somehow I don’t see Armageddon here.


  • unitedtribes

    I read an article that in the UK most cats were infected with Leptospirosis that was then infecting their owners. This was causing a lot of health problems in humans. Even brain disorders were mentioned. The little pussy is a killer not only of birds.
    “Leptospirosis is a life-threatening disease transmitted through contact with urine from infected mammals (raccoons, rats, dogs, etc). The organisms quickly spread through the bloodstream, causing fever and lethargy, and very commonly can infect both the liver (10-20 percent of cases) and kidney (90 percent of cases). Typical symptoms include vomiting, excessive thirst, poor appetite, bleeding and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).”

    • Gazzaw

      Let’s put this right into perspective. In 2010 there were fewer than 100 cases of lepto reported in NZ none of which were fatal. The vast majority of those infected were freezing workers handling pig, deer & sheep carcases. The only form of lepto that infects domestic animals is lepto copenhageni which only rarely infects cats, dogs being the main victims. I’m struggling to find any significant connection between cats and lepto in NZ but lets not worry about hysteria getting in the way of a good story.

      • unitedtribes

        But in the UK millions have died! I think

      • kehua

        Then look for the connection between feral cat shit and the sheep industry cost of Toxoplasmosis and Campylobactor by way of vaccination costs and foetal abortion losses.

  • GregM

    I think cats are doing us all a favour. The world would be knee deep in birdshit without them.

  • Phil

    Cats should be subject to the same rules as other pets. If the owner cannot guarantee the cat will remain on the property, it should be on a leash (or kept inside).