Compared to a control group, cats killed fewer wild animals in the
groups that ate high-protein diets and that played with their owners. Thosetwo groups of cats also brought down less prey than before the experimentbegan.
My cat is made in the U.S.A., homegrown in my own backyard. However,biologically, she’s an import and that has implications for native wildlife.For those cat owners who let their felines roam the neighborhood, high-proteincat food may be one means to reduce predatory pressure on birds and othersmall wildlife.
Tigra origin story
A mother cat birthed a litter under our shed. I waited until they were weanedand caught one of the kittens. She became Tigra, and never spent another dayoutside.
In my eyes, the kitten was now family. In Missouri’s ecosystem, though, shewas an invasive species, like Burmese pythons in Florida, though cuddlier.Along with their feral cousins, pet cats allowed outdoors devour a range ofwildlife. This prey can include threatened native animals, a particularproblem in Australia and other areas populated by endemic animals. Pet foodcompanies may have an opportunity to help with conservation while marketinghigh protein cat diets.
Cat predation on wildlife and what to do about it
A literature review in Animals examined research on predation by domesticcats, along with other costs and benefits of allowing pet cats to roam outsidetheir houses. Along with the ecological effects of an invasive predator, catsthemselves may face greater risk of disease and parasites. Similarly, outdoorcats face higher chances of traffic injury and death. The outdoor pet cat maybecome prey itself or eat poison meant for other animals. At the most basiclevel, outdoor cats are more likely to be lost.
For those cat owners who decide to let their cats roam, a study in CurrentBiology identified ways to reduce their pets’ predation on birds and otherwildlife. A team of University of Exeter scientists recruited 219 householdsin southwest England, with a total of 355 cats. For 12 weeks, outdoor catowners tried one of five methods to reduce predation on wild birds and smallmammals. In one group, the cats were fitted with bells. In another, the catsate a premium grain-free, high-meat cat food. In a third, cats received theirconventional kibble in a puzzle toy that required them to knock the piecesout. Cats in a fourth group wore a commercially available, rainbow-colored,ruffled collar meant to startle birds. Cat owners played with their pets for aminimum of five minutes per day in a fifth group. Compared to a control group,cats killed fewer wild animals in the groups that ate high-protein diets andthat played with their owners. Those two groups of cats also brought down lessprey than before the experiment began. Cats in the puzzle group increasedpredation.
With evidence that certain diets may reduce predation, cat food marketers mayfind another aspect of their product to tout. Pet owners tend to be animallovers in general, so outdoor cats’ effects on the environment may be a causeof cognitive dissonance for cat owners. For those who let their cats outdoors,feeding high protein diets may offer a means to reduce their pets’ predationon wild animals.
Source: Tim Wall Petfood Industry.com
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