As has been noted, domestic cats descend from predators well honed by evolution to be killers. Not since the days of raptors have such well-engineered killing machines silently stalked and taken down prey. House cats have been bred by humans for traits we find appealing for a lot less time than dogs (Sorry, cat vs dog lovers), so they’re a bit, more, well, raw might be the word in terms of evolutionary modifications. Now we can prove it!
LA Times) — In cooperation with the National Geographic Society’s CritterCam team, which attaches cameras to animals to record the activities of a variety of species, Lloyd and her colleagues recruited 60 cat owners in Athens, Ga. The owners attached the tiny cameras to the cats’ collars every morning when the animals were let out, then dowloaded the day’s images every night. Each animal was followed for seven to 10 days.
The team found that about 30% of the cats killed prey, an average of two animals per week. The cats brought home nearly a quarter of the animals they killed, ate 30% and left 49% to rot where they died. About 41% of the prey were lizards, snakes and frogs; mammals such as chipmunks and voles accounted for 25%; and birds only 12%. The low percentage of birds may be because they can fly, but with an estimated 74 million cats in the country, the total carnage is high.
That’s for presumably well fed and cared for domestic cats. Which makes me wonder how many pests feral cats are taking out. Maybe we owe those neglected critters more than we realize.