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Cats Indoors

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The number of pet cats in the United States is estimated to be over 60 million. Nationwide, approximately 30% of households have cats. In rural areas where free-ranging cats are usually not regarded as pets, approximately 60% of households have cats.

Perhaps you are a cat lover and your home is one of the above mentioned households. If so, some of our staff also shares your same fondness for cats, and they along with others feel that all cat owners should be aware of the following information in order to appreciate the responsibility involved in owning one of these fascinating pets.

It is clear that loss of habitat is certainly a primary cause for the decline of many of America's songbirds. Yet there are other causes, too, and collectively they have a significant effect. Many of these causes are difficult for us to address, but the subject of free-ranging cats should be considered.

Although rural free-ranging cats have greater access to wild animals and undoubtedly take the greatest toll, even urban house pets often take live prey when allowed outside. Studies of free-ranging cats show that some cats can kill over 1000 wild animals per year, although most do not. Some of the data on kills suggest that free-ranging cats kill an average of 14 wild animals each per year.

Of course, rural cats kill many more wild animals than do urban or suburban cats. Even well-fed cats will frequently kill wildlife, because it is instinctive for cats to hunt--they do not do it strictly out of hunger.

Nationwide, rural cats alone probably kill over a billion small mammals and hundreds of millions of birds each year. Urban and suburban cats add to this toll. Some of these kills are mice, rats and other species considered pests, but many are native, non-pest songbirds and mammals. cat3

If at all possible, for the sake of your cat and local wildlife, keep your cat indoors. Keeping the cats inside helps reduce predation on wild animals, unwanted litters (another result of allowing cats to be free-ranging, of course, is that they find mates), and the spread of disease. De-clawing may reduce hunting success, but many de-clawed cats are still effective predators.

Keeping your cats indoors helps protect the wildlife around your yard!

Much of the information for this article was taken from " Cats and Wildlife, A Conservation Dilemma ," By John S. Coleman, Stanley A. Temple and Scott R. Craven.

The American Bird Conservancy has begun a new program to encourage cat owners to be responsible for their pets, called Cats Indoors! This program is supported by many other organizations, too, such as the National Audubon Society, which has also sponsored a Resolution on Cats.

There are many reasons to keep your cat indoors; sixteen of them can be seen by clicking here. The American Bird Conservancy has many recommendations as to how you can help, and what you can do to keep your cats indoors.

Please do not consider this article as an attack on your cat. Cats are wonderful animals and great companions! Please do consider, however, this article as a responsible evaluation of reality.

For more information on the Cats Indoors! campaign, contact the ABC at 1731 Connecticut Avenue, NW 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20009 or abc@abcbirds.org.

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