We’ve always known that cats are much deadlier predators than they let on, but a recent report shows that our feline friends are actually harder killers than we’ve ever thought before.
When house cats are allowed to roam about freely outside, only a slim margin become hunter-killers of various critters. Roughly 30 percent of cats kill yard pests, but that 30 percent is more battle-tested and bloodthirsty than we previously thought, reports USA Today. “That mouse carcass Kitty presents you with is just the tip of a very bloody iceberg,” writes Elizabeth Weise, introducing a research project that put small cameras (dubbed “kittycams”) on house cats to document their habits 0f slaughter.
Based on a U.S. house-cat population of 74 million, “cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American birds species are in decline,” said the president of the American Bird Conservancy. “The previous estimates were probably too conservative because they didn’t include the animals that cats ate or left behind,” said a University of Georgia researcher.
Though cats bring home trophies, these corpses represent a mere quarter of what they actually kill; most casualties are left to rot where they died. Cats aren’t picky killers either, notes Newser. Though cat owners primarily see birds, lizards, snakes, and frogs that make up 41 percent of the animals killed, mammals like chipmunks and voles make up 25 percent, insects and worms 20 percent, and finally, birds at 12 percent.
Cats aren’t just effective killers, they are also a danger to themselves, the research found. The cats in the study demonstrated little regard for themselves, engaging in risky behaviors like crossing the street (45 percent), eating and drinking pretty much anything they find (25 percent), exploring storm drains (20 percent), and entering tight spaces where they could get stuck (20 percent).
Interestingly, male cats were more likely to engage in such behavior than female cats.
Here’s a video report, which reveals the secret and murderous lives of household cats: