Chaser of laser pens, vanquisher of cucumbers, and overall champion of the Internet, cats are beloved by many. But your kitty may be hiding a dark secret, and no, we’re not talking about the parasite that can infect you and might make you go crazy. Cats – spread around the globe by their two-legged slaves – have been responsible for at least 63 extinctions of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
In what is thought to be the most comprehensive review of extinctions caused by invasive predators, researchers have found that at least 87 birds, 45 mammals, and 10 reptiles have been driven off the planet thanks to the introduction of predatory mammals. Out of all those considered, rodents have actually caused the most damage, followed by those pesky pussies, and then red foxes, dogs, pigs, and the Indian mongoose.
It has long been known that when we traversed the planet, we took with us a whole menagerie of creatures that have wreaked damage to the local wildlife wherever we stopped off. From the dodo in Mauritius to the pig-footed bandicoot in Australia, many species were well known to have been driven over the edge because of these introductions. But the exact scale of this catastrophe has remained elusive as no one had compiled it all together, until now.
“Our research shows that in parts of the world, invasive mammalian predators are major drivers of species decline and extinction,” explains co-author Dr Tim Doherty, from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology, in a statement. The study is published in PNAS.