While cute, this cat is a killer.
Cats are wonderful. They are soft, cuddly, and are a sensation on YouTube. Being carnivores, cats are also well adapted predators. There are millions upon millions of cats around the world. Some are pets, some are strays, and some are feral. Fact: The domestic house cat is an invasive species. An invasive species is defined as an organism (plant, animal, fungus, or bacterium) that is not native and has negative effects on the environment. Invasive plants and animals are the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.
How much do cats really kill? According to research published in the journal Nature Communications, every year cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals. These numbers are staggering and without a doubt cats pose a threat to native wildlife. Need more data to back up this claim? Check out this educational, albeit hilarious, info-graphic by the Oatmeal: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cats_actually_kill
NOTE: Globally wildlife populations are declining at an alarming rate. Besides invasive species, wildlife are threatened by habitat destruction, infectious diseases, climate change, over-harvesting, and more! This article is not anti-cat, but rather it is to bring awareness to the impact cats have on native wildlife.
Back story: I am currently managing a 200 acre field station in the heart of the Maya Mountains of Belize. I have many responsibilities as station manager, but one of them is to make sure the pets are properly looked after. There are two cats that live on the property and one of them is an excellent hunter. Late last night I discovered that this feline had procured a small, adorable mammal.
Whenever I find that the cat has caught something, I try to take it away as soon as possible. The captured creature might still be alive and these cats are well fed and definitely do not need to be killing animals for their food! However, in most cases the animal has quickly been killed by the cat. Tonight I could see that this little mammal was struggling so I got it from the cat! Right away I knew what it was, a beautiful Mexican Mouse Opossum, Marmosa mexicana.
The opossum was in shock, and for good reason, it nearly lost its life! After a few minutes it started to calm down. I was preparing to keep it over night, and in the morning I would assess its wounds. Yet, after ten minutes it seemed as if the little one was ready to be released.
It seemed to say, “Let me out! Let me out! Let me out!”
It appeared to have minor woulds so I released it back out into the forest. I watched it scale a tree with little effort and hopefully it will survive. So, use this opossum’s situation as a reminder: Be a responsible pet owner, a friend to native wildlife, and keep your cats indoors!