CATS KILL BIRDS: New research has revealed cats are killing more than one million birds a day across Australia.
CATS KILL BIRDS: New research has revealed cats are killing more than one million birds a day across Australia. Supplied

Cats kill more than one million birds every day

YOUR beloved feline may look adorable, but a new report reveals this pampered pet may also be a cold blooded killer.

New research* by scientists has revealed cats kill more than a million birds a day across Australia and while the majority are in rural and remote areas, towns and cities are also losing their local birdlife.

While feral cats are often held responsible, roughly half of Australia's cats are pets and they also take a considerable toll on wildlife. In fact in Australia, cats are likely to significantly increase the extinction risk faced by some bird species.

While Lismore Council's website states cat owners must have their pet registered, microchipped and keep them indoors at night, Northern Rivers wildlife carers are calling for people to take more responsibility and help curtail the cats which she said are out of control.

WIRES Northern Rivers media spokesperson, Sharon McGrigor said there a terrible problem with cats straying at night.

She said along with birds, the cats are also wiping out the local glider population.

"It's terrible, people are not taking responsibility for their pets," she said.

"I would like to see each council rule cats be kept inside full-time but it would be hard to enforce."

Ms McGrigor said it's an appalling state of affairs when so many threatened specials brought into WIRES as a result of cat attacks.

"We see many hundreds of native animals and birds as a result of either feral or irresponsible owners," she said.

"We have threatened species including little gliders and small birds which are prime for cat attacks."

The reports co-author, Australian National University Associate Professor Sarah Legge, said it's important Northern Rivers residents to understand the immense impact their felines are having on the environment.

Ass Prof. Legge who resides near Mullumbimby said too many cat owners are in denial about their cat's activities.

"Pet owners don't realise how damaging their cats can be," she said.

"There a heap of research we need to do to look at controlling cats more effectively."

Ass Prof. Legge said she lives on a bush block and four of her town neighbours have cats and there also many feral animals in the area.

"My block is visited by two feral cats and I have caught on camera traps," she said.

"One is white and tortoiseshell so maybe it had a domestic parents, there appears to be some genetic movement between feral and domestic cats."

Cat Kills Research

  • The research combined data on the cat population, hunting rates and spatial distribution to calculate cats kill 377 million birds a year.
  • This is about 3-4% of Australia's 11 billion land birds each year.
  • Cats killing birds has been a contentious issue for more than 100 years, since the spread of feral cats encompassed the entire Australian mainland.
  • Data also suggests feral cats in human-modified landscapes, such as the areas surrounding cities, kill a further 44 million birds each year.
  • Pet cats kill about 61 million birds per year.
  • Cats are kill more than 330 native bird species - about half of all Australia's resident bird species.
  • Researcher found in natural and remote landscapes, 99% of the cat-killed birds are native species
  • Cats are known to kill 71 of Australia's 117 threatened bird species.

*The report was compiled by Professor John Woinarski, Charles Darwin University; Brett Murphy, Senior Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University; Leigh-Ann Woolley, Research Associate at Charles Darwin University; Sarah Legge, Associate Professor at the Australian National University; Stephen Garnett, Professor of Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods at the Charles Darwin University, and Tim Doherty, Research Fellow at Deakin University.

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