Free-Roaming Cats: A Conservation Crisis
Domestic cats (Felis catus) can provide excellent companionship and make wonderful pets. But when allowed to roam outdoors, this non-native, invasive species threatens the welfare of birds and other wildlife and endangers the integrity of the ecosystems into which domestic cats are introduced.
Domestic cats are recognized as a threat to global biodiversity. Cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 species across the world and continue to adversely impact a wide variety of species, including those that are threatened or endangered. The ecological dangers are so critical that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) now lists domestic cats as one of the world’s worst non-native invasive species.
In the U.S., free-roaming domestic cats kill an estimated 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals. The sheer quantity of cat-caused mortality is staggering. For perspective, consider that 1.4 billion is equivalent to the entire human population of China, the most populous country in the world. As the number of cats continues to grow and owners continue to allow their pets to roam, harmful impacts will surely increase.