Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cats Will Be Cats

One of the things I always like to visit at my friend Lisa's house is the black Burmese cat because my wife and I can't have one (we have two dogs, a Labrador and a Pit Bull, who hate feline creatures). I'm not sure Selina ever caught a mouse but the last time I went there, she brought me a sand lizard that I think lives underneath the old jackfruit tree at the front yard. I grabbed her by the neck and the reptile dropped out of her mouth. Dead. According to Lisa, her pet bags about two birds a week. She saw Selina snatch a maya last month; the following day a frog succumbed to her attack.

Domestic cats aren't just the adorable creatures depicted in unbearably cute Internet videos. They're also lethal hunters. They kill time by killing wildlife, and they are responsible for slaughtering billions of other animals each year. Yes, a cat doesn't look nearly as deadly as the black mamba, as strong as the mountain gorilla or as menacing as the humans, but they shouldn't be underestimated.

Cats have honed their hunting skills over millions of years and, despite their sweet and cuddly semblance, they are swift and silent predators. Their ears are very sensitive at catching the high-pitched frequencies made by other animals. Their whiskers can also receive tiny vibrations that help them zero in on an unsuspecting prey.

According to the BBC, our furry friends have already been blamed for the global extinction of at least 33 species worldwide. Mice were the most popular target, followed by birds and bats. They also hunted down rabbits, squirrels, frogs, lizards, small snakes and worms.

While stray and feral cats are accountable for most of this carnage, pets are also involved. Our feline companions don't have to deal with actually hunting down their food anymore — but that wild animal instinct remains pretty solid. Research suggests that a single cat may kill between 100 and 200 mammals in a year, meaning an estimated population of between 30 and 80 million cats would result in the death of 3 and 8 billion mammals.

Cats are utterly merciless, and they are extremely poor at obeying orders. If your feline friend must be outdoors, please put a small bell on his or her collar. This at least will hopefully warn birds of the arrival of your beloved pet and give them enough time to escape.

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