CAT-astrophe! Scientists reveal why your free-ranging pet feline is wreaking havoc on the environment

  • Free-roaming cats are responsible for preying on 347 endangered species
  • There are more than 164 million free-roaming cats in the United States
  • Read more: Radioactive cats have invaded the locals

Most pet cats enjoy running free outdoors, but a new study has found that these free-roaming pets are wreaking havoc on the environment.

Researchers at Auburn University in Alabama have revealed that these domesticated animals are one of the most invasive species In the world, causing the spread of disease and pushing some species to the brink of extinction.

A new study published on Tuesday found that cats are responsible for eating more than 2,000 species, 347 of which are threatened or of greater concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Aside from predation, the team also observed that roaming domestic animals spread diseases that affect wildlife and human health, including parasites that weaken the immune system, plague, and rabies.

Free-roaming cats are responsible for killing 347 endangered or threatened species

Since cats were domesticated more than 9,000 years ago, they have spread across six continents – and the only one remaining uninhabited is Antarctica.

“Because of this global distribution, cats have disrupted many of the ecosystems into which they have been introduced,” the study said.

the Stady He continued: “Specifically, cats spread new diseases to a range of species, including humans, and domestic cats that outcompete competition and other predators, threaten the genetic integrity of wild cats, prey on native animals, and drive many species to extinction.”

“As a result, free-grazing cats (i.e. owned or unowned cats with access to the outdoor environment) are among the most problematic invasive species in the world.”

The researchers used a method called observed predation to find out which animals free-ranging cats preyed on using camera trap apps and animal-borne video.

This method resulted in the identification of the smallest number of species, adding that the researchers turned to previous studies until May 2021.

The team looked at 533 unique publications that recorded the types of species consumed by cats, but determined that no single method consistently revealed the most common method for determining a cat's diet.

The researchers found that cats consumed approximately 47% of birds, 22% of reptiles, 20% of mammals, and about 10% of insects, amphibians and other prey.

Researchers suggest keeping cats indoors or adding bright bells and collars to make it harder for them to chase prey

Researchers suggest keeping cats indoors or adding bright bells and collars to make it harder for them to chase prey

While the researchers focused on cat diet using more than 150 years of literature, the study also documented the negative impact of freely grazing cats on the environment.

Aside from predation, these impacts include numerous cat-borne diseases that affect wildlife and human health and well-being, including toxoplasmosis, plague and rabies, and in some areas (such as Australia), some of these diseases would not occur without cats. “The study said.

“Furthermore, cats living in warehouses (also known as colonies) can exacerbate these issues as well as introduce additional problems including nutrient overloading, sanitation, and wildlife conflicts.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines free-ranging cats as “any cat that spends unrestrained time outdoors regardless of ownership status” in a 2021 report and says as many as 164 million cats reside in the United States alone — 30 to 80 million not “Owned.”

The government agency suggested local or state legislative measures to prevent cat damage, including banning or off-leashing cats from the outdoors, adding microchipping and sterilization laws, or adding brightly colored bells, collars or bibs that “reduce a cat's ability to hide.” And chasing cats.” victim.'

Fertility control methods have also been proposed to limit the growth of cat populations.

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