KittyCam Reveals High Levels Of Wildlife Being Killed By Outdoor Cats

Monday, August 6, 2012

A new study of house cats allowed to roam outdoors finds that nearly one-third succeeded in capturing and killing animals. The cats, which wore special video cameras around their necks that recorded their outdoor activities, killed an average of 2.1 animals every week they were outside, but brought less than one of every four of their kills home. Of particular interest, bird kills constituted about 13 percent of the total wildlife kills. Based on these results, American Bird Conservancy and The Wildlife Society estimate that house cats kill far more than the previous estimate of a billion birds and other animals each year. 

The study was carried out by scientists from the University of Georgia and the National Geographic Society's Crittercam program.

“The results were certainly surprising, if not startling,” said Kerrie Anne Loyd of the University of Georgia, who was the lead author of the study. “In Athens-Clarke County, we found that about 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful in capturing and killing prey, and that those cats averaged about one kill for every 17 hours outdoors or 2.1 kills per week. It was also surprising to learn that cats only brought 23 percent of their kills back to a residence. We found that house cats will kill a wide variety of animals, including: lizards, voles, chipmunks, birds, frogs, and small snakes.” 

Ms. Loyd and her colleagues attached small video cameras (dubbed Crittercams or KittyCams) to 60 outdoor house cats in the city of Athens, Ga., and recorded their outdoor activities during all four seasons. Ms. Loyd said the cats were outside for an average of 5-6 hours every day. 

“If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than four billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline,” said Dr. George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy, the only organization exclusively conserving birds throughout the Americas. 

“I think it will be impossible to deny the ongoing slaughter of wildlife by outdoor cats given the videotape documentation and the scientific credibility that this study brings,” said Michael Hutchins, executive director/CEO of The Wildlife Society, the leading organization for wildlife professionals in the United States. “There is a huge environmental price that we are paying every single day that we turn our backs on our native wildlife in favor of protecting non-native predatory cats at all cost while ignoring the inconvenient truth about the mortality they inflict.” 

Volunteer cat owners were recruited through advertisements in local newspapers, and all selected cats were given a free health screening. Each cat owner downloaded the footage from the camera at the end of each recording day. 

The new study does not include the animals killed by feral cats that have no owners. A University of Nebraska study released last year found that feral cats were responsible for the extinction of 33 species of birds worldwide, that even well fed cats in so-called “managed” cat colonies will kill, that feral cats prey more on native wildlife than on other invasive creatures, and that most feral cats (between 62 and 80 percent) tested positive for toxoplasmosis (a disease with serious implications for pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems). 

This study was collaboration between Kerrie Anne Loyd and Dr. Sonia Hernandez from the University of Georgia, and Greg Marshall, Kyler Abernathy, and Barrett Foster of National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department and was funded in part by the Kenneth Scott Charitable Foundation. For further information, please contact either kloyd@uga.edu or shernz@uga.edu. 

View video and photos from the KittyCam at the University of Georgia's website.



Get The Skinny On Watts Bar Weeds

Social media is a buzz about Watts Bar weeds. So we asked our TVA aquatic plant expert Dr. Brett Hartis – What exactly is going on with Watts Bar Weeds? It seems like there are a lot of theories about what’s going on with aquatic plants this year on Watts Bar Lake. We’ve heard everything from high water flows, commercial plant management companies killing weeds lake-wide, property ... (click for more)

Bat Blitz Set For July In Sewanee

Education is the key to understanding an issue and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network hopes to allow the public a peek into the important research focusing on bats during the first day of a week-long Bat Blitz. On  Monday, July 23,  the general public is invited to come out and gain a better understanding of what bat biologists do through the course of their duties. ... (click for more)

Rhonda Thurman "Astounded" At Low Performance By Hamilton County Schools On TNReady; Dr. Johnson Says Some Gaps "Closing" Between County And State

County School Board member Rhonda Thurman said Thursday she was "astounded" by low performance on TNReady scores that were just released.   Noting that the county schools are below state levels in many areas, she said, "I am blown away. I am just astounded. We spend millions and ten millions and this is what we get."   She said, "If people want to know why ... (click for more)

Senator Corker Calls Judge Kavanaugh "A Superb Nominee"

 Senator Bob Corker on Thursday called Judge Brett Kavanaugh "a superb nominee" for the U.S. Supreme Court.   He made the statement after meeting with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.   Senator Corker said, “I had a great meeting today with Judge Kavanaugh and think he is a superb nominee. It is inspiring to me to see ... (click for more)

Employee Who Stole From East Ridge Should Be Prosecuted

Why has the East Ridge employee who was fired for theft not been charged with theft?    City Manager Scott Miller made the statement that the employee had problems and that the stolen items were returned.  What does that have to do with the employee stealing ?   He has had a history of abuse of city resources. Why is he not being prosecuted? ... (click for more)

Am I Alone? - And Response (5)

Am I alone seems to be quite apt as I begin to form sentences, thoughts and concerns regarding the state of this country. I feel like I am alone trying, somehow, to justify Trump and understand why he is constantly in the middle of chaos.  Now coined as the Liar-in-Chief, Chief Foreign Affairs Coordinator acting for his pal Russian Dictator, Putin.  The silence ... (click for more)