Birds in Delaware

Domestic Cat Predation

An Alarming Problem

Domestic cat predation is now emerging as one of the most destructive forces in declining bird populations.

The problem is so serious that large conservation groups such as the National Audubon Society, the American Bird Conservancy, Partners in Flight, the National Wildlife Federation, the International Council on Bird Preservation, and many other local and national birding and environmental groups -- and, interestingly, most animal welfare organizations like the American Humane Association and the Humane Society of the United States -- are urging pet owners to keep their cats indoors, citing a healthier life for the cat and an important preservation tool for wildlife.

Scientists estimate that free-roaming cats (owned, stray, and feral) kill hundreds of millions of birds and possibly more than a billion small mammals in the U.S. each year. Cats kill not only birds that frequent our backyards, such as the Eastern Towhee, American Goldfinch, and Song Sparrow, but also WatchList species such as the Snowy Plover, Wood Thrush, and Black-throated Blue Warbler, and endangered species such as the Least Tern and Piping Plover.

Not only are birds and other wildlife at risk, but cats who roam free often lead short and painful lives, living on average less than 5 years, whereas indoor cats often live to 17 or more years of age.

The American Bird Conservancy has prepared informative educational materials on the impact of cats on birds, including documentation on cat predation, health hazards, and other dangers associated with free-roaming cats, legislative solutions, and practical advice on how to convert an outdoor cat into a contented indoor pet.

These materials, prepared with the assistance of a technical advisory committee with representatives from the animal welfare, conservation (including National Audubon Society), veterinary, and scientific communities, can be a valuable asset to Audubon chapters, bird clubs, schools, and the general public.

For more information, visit the following sites: