Every cat owner knows that receiving the odd mangled rodent is part and parcel of life with one's feline friends. However, leading expert of anthrozoology Dr John Bradshaw believes cats are stuck in a limbo between 21st-century life and their evolutionary hunting past. He contends that the solution to this problem could be to have their hunting instinct bred out of them.
“They evolved a habit we encouraged [catching mice] for 10,000 years and for the last 20 years we don’t want it," Dr Bradshaw said at the Cheltenham Science Festival, MailOnline reports. "Worldwide we need a solution to cats going hunting for wildlife when they don’t need to. I think we are going to have to intervene."
According to a 2013 study, domestic cats kill more than a billion birds per year. "There’s precious little enough wildlife as there is – it can’t share with the cat," said Dr Bradshaw. "That’s not sustainable long term."
Dr Bradshaw went on to argue that while the domestic cat is a beloved and beautiful animal, if we want them to fit into the 21st-century, it's necessary for them to change. Since cats already receive all the nutrition they need from their owners, we should reserve hunting territories for wild predators that need to hunt to survive.
He added: “There is probably a genetic variation underpinning it. So you need to find where the genes are. The whole cat genome is sequenced. There are probably no more than 15 to 20 genes that differ significantly between cat and wild ancestors. It may very well be that one of those changes or a number in combination are at the root of the difference in hunting ability between the wild cat, which is a far more effective.”
Other than encouraging commercial breeders to breed non-aggressive cats, Dr Bradshaw didn’t lay out how exactly we could execute this plot. However, he said that in the meanwhile, owners should discourage their cats from hunting, even if you do like finding a chewed up frog in your shoes.