Cats Murder More Than 80 Different Species Of American Birds And Mammals


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer


It's behiiiiind youuuu. Sergey Zaykov/Shutterstock

Cats are incredibly effective serial killers immune from prosecution. These miniature murderers may send as many as 20 billion mammals and 3.7 billion birds to their deaths every single year in the US alone, but we still go wide-eyed watching adorable gifs of them online.

A new study in the Journal of Wildlife Management underscores just how blood-bathed these battalions of domestic cats really are. It won’t change our opinion of them, but remember – having the personality of lions, they might be tempted to kill you too, given half the chance.


A team from the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV) scoured through 20,921 records of small birds and mammals sent into their equivalent of A&E between 2000 and 2010. Rather than just killing mice, they were found to have hunted down at least 80 species native to the US.

In terms of mammalian patients, about 15 percent of them were admitted due to cat-based assassination attempts, the second-highest cause of their admission, just behind being orphaned. Who knows, perhaps cats are killing their parents too.

Grimly, of all those mammals admitted, 71 percent of them died. This means domestic cats are almost as good at offing mammals as vehicles are, which manage to terminate about 80 percent of their victims.

Cats were also the fourth-greatest cause of bird admission, constituting around 14 percent of the total. Of these unfortunate patients, a whopping 81 percent of them died, making cats the second-highest cause of bird-based mortality.


When it comes to mammals, bats are the most commonly slaughtered creature, making up 84 percent of all succumbed victims at WCV. Finches, making up 89 percent of all dead birds, are by far the most frequently murdered avian critters.

Natural born killers. RobsPhoto/Shutterstock

Curiously, cats seem to attack adult birds more frequently than juveniles or nestlings. However, when it comes to mammals, defenseless juveniles – kids, no less – are their prime target.

Think of all those baby bats that will never grow old. All those adult finches who will leave their children behind to fend for themselves. Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen: your little frowning bundle of joy is a monster, a proverbial Pablo Escobar in a distinctly furry form. So how can this senseless global massacre be stopped?


Apart from purging the world of most of its cats – a moral quagmire of an option – you could do something as simple as attaching a bell to your cat’s collar. This would at least give its prey an audible warning that death is approaching it. Making sure your cat is well fed will also likely reduce its need to go out on the hunt, although not completely.

Otherwise, though, it appears little can be done. Unless, of course, wild animals learn how to use cucumbers to scare off their attackers.


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