How to Discourage Your Pet Cats from Hunting Wildlife
Although your cat or cats may spend most of their time indoors, they can be ferocious killers when they are out and about in the great outdoors.
Wildlife can have enough to contend with in just surviving - finding enough food, water and shelter. When you add in "pet cats on the prowl", the odds are stacked up against our wildlife.
While we know that having a cat can have many health benefits for their owner, one worrying aspect is what your beloved cat might hunt, catch and kill. Is there anything pet owners can do about this situation?
Researchers say there is...
What did the researchers discover?
- First, they found that cats which are fed meat rather than other kinds of protein feel less inclined to go hunting for birds, rodents and other wildlife.
- And second, they discovered that playing with your pets, especially in ways that mimic hunting satisfies a primal urge, helped to curb their predatory instincts. Examples include dangling a toy above their outstretched paws.
The researchers enrolled 229 households with a total of 355 cats during a twelve week trial to test the effect of such strategies on the cats.
Robbie McDonald (one of the researchers) from the University of Exeter in the UK said:
"Our study shows that (using entirely non-invasive, non-restrictive methods) owners can change what the cats themselves want to do. By playing with cats and changing their diets, owners can reduce their impact on wildlife without restricting their freedom!"
The researchers also pointed out that some cat foods contain protein from plant sources such as soy and it is possible that, despite forming a complete diet, these foods leave some cats deficient in one or more micronutrients, prompting them to hunt.
The results of that cat trial
- The researchers found that where proteins were derived from meat, it reduced the number of prey the pets brought home to cat owners by as much as thirty six percent.
- Other experiments allowed cats to stalk, chase and pounce on a feather toy dangled by their owner on a string and wand.
- Owners also gave cats a mouse-like toy to play with after each "hunt" to mimic a real kill.
- They found that as little as five to ten minutes a day of such play reduced predation by twenty five percent.
No one wants to be presented with birds, mice and even rats in their homes - sometimes still alive.
The results of this research could be a real bonus for both cat owners and our vulnerable wildlife.