POLL: Should outdoor cats be prevented from killing birds?

POLL: Should outdoor cats be prevented from killing birds?

  • 386

More than 1 million native Australian birds are killed across the country by every day, new research shows.

The study, published in the journal Biological Conversation, estimates feral cats kill 316 million birds a year, while pet cats kill 61 million birds annually. More than 99% are native.

“Everyone knows that cats kill birds, but this study shows that, at a national level, the amount of is staggering, and is likely to be driving the ongoing decline of many species,” said the lead researcher, Prof John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University.

Pet cats kill 61 million birds a year in , a new study estimates. Photograph: SilviaJansen/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Assoc Prof Sarah Legge of the Australian National University said the researchers had combined data from previous studies.

It was the first study to look at the nationwide impact cats were having on Australia’s birds, Legge said. “We also looked at the traits that were more likely to make a bird susceptible to cats.”

Small- to medium-sized birds, birds that nest and hunt on the ground, and those found on remote islands or arid areas are most at risk.

The scientists estimate there are about 11 billion native birds across the country, suggesting that cats kill about 4% of the population annually.

“We found records of cats 338 species of native birds, of which 71 were species,” Legge said. “That’s about 60% of the in Australia.”

The acting threatened species commissioner, Sebastian Lang, said the government had already sunk more than $30m into projects to reduce the feral threat.

“Responsible pet owners can help reduce the impact of domestic cats by desexing them and keeping them indoors or in a cat run,” Lang said. “These are great ways to protect our wildlife that can also improve the wellbeing of domestic cats.”

Damage done by cats

  • 377 million birds killed annually
  • 99% of birds killed are native birds – 373 million
  • 316 million birds killed by feral cats annually
  • 61 million birds killed annually by domestic cats
  • 338 species of native birds killed, including 71 threatened species

This article was first published by The Guardian on 04 Oct 2017.

We invite you to share your opinion whether outdoor cats should be prevented from killing birds? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should outdoor cats be prevented from killing birds?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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My cats have always been spayed or neutered and kept indoors. I’m not willing to take the chance of their getting hit by a car. I have neighbors with outside cats but I think too much of them to take that chance. And as for the person who asked if we keep our dog or dogs in the house – yeah – mine goes outside on a leash and I live in the country. As I said before, I care about my animals.

Helen Wood

Discouraged, yes, stopped, no. Our family teaches cats not to attack birds with a high success rate, but cats are natural predators. Ban pesticides and bird deaths will fall to much lower rates. We are the problem, not cats.

Cindy Lewis

Cats shouldn’t be outdoor cats especially when people have bird feeders too.

Bettina Ulloth

Es sollte verhindert werden, aber es ist der Jagdinstinkt.

Deb Perry-Walter

They are cats, that is what they do.

Mongoose Jones

well, yeah, and we humans are predators as well……

Mongoose Jones

ALSO, cats PREFER rodents, as any cat owners/ lovers can tell anyone wants to know.

Mongoose Jones

I feel the “facts” are hugely skewed by cat haters…..the Smithsonian, Audubon society and the government of Australia are among those who buy into this propaganda. They ignore the effects of pesticides, herbicides, habitat loss, hunting, etc.

Mary White

No they are hunters

Mongoose Jones

Mary White: they are predators of course, but PREFER rodents.

Jean Clelland-Morin

My cats come and go as they please. They are well fed, but yes, they do the cat-thing on occasion. I worry a whole lot less about the destructions cats do than the Market for Torture, Execution, Rape of the Earth and Torpedoing of any SickCare system, by Non-Vegans.

Holly Crawford

Stupid. Cat is a cat Geesh

Debbie Macmillan
Debbie Macmillan

Difficult question. I keep my cats inside but there are feral cats I feed in barn and try to make sure they are not hungry, I have noted that they will walk passed pigeons, gills and pheasants but I don’t know if they have ever killed tree birds. The feral cats were trapped and spayed/neutred.

Tuving Koğž

Domestic Cats has been one of the major cause of extinction of faunas.

Norma Hurt

that’s natural and what few they kill to eat is survival.

Louise Laham


Karen Lyons Kalmenson

yes, this bird slaughter must be stopped. but slaughtering cats is not the answer.

peeps keep your cats indoors, period and spay/neuter!!!

Delbert Smith

It is not a problem if you just kill the cats. No need to have feral cats. I live in the country and people dump dogs and cats because they will not pay the pounds fees. A simple cheap bullet ends the problem for both the animal and me.

I have a horse that has killed a bear, the horse is also death on the larger dumped dogs.

Marilyn Leybra

D Smith, you put a cheap bullet in your head to end your problem?

Evelyn Ball

And so the innocent animals pay the price for their worthless owners??? If it were humans a big deal would be made not to kill them but because it’s a cat or dog, who cares? How about we put a bullet in your head, too many worthless idiots on the planet that don’t respect other species.

Marilyn Ashman

Marilyn Leybra I Agree!!. He’s usually trolling on this website, and is all for Trophy Hunting as well!!.

Juanita Cunningham

No dont interfere with nature

Darren Cook

I suggest we stop breeding, torturing. And then murdering animals before we start with cats , maybe if we hadn’t driven certain wildlife to near extinction we could speak without being hypocrites!

Jeannie Mccandless

I turned in 17 feral cats to the shelter in a few weeks. After that I awoke to the sounds of birds chirping and singing in the morning. Then other cats came and took their place and the birds were silenced once again.

From what I understand, cats are from Africa and not native.

Theresa Kemp

I love all of nature and I agree that we should leave nature to take it’s course. There is a food chain in the wild which is necessary and has worked since time began. However, we are not talking in the wild here and with cats this is no longer necessary when they are owned and being fed well enough indoors. My cats collars have always been fitted with a tiny bell (which often comes with the collars) and this tiny little bell gives the birds good notice of the cats approaching, allowing them to fly away. This does not… Read more »

Frances Stapleton

Is this for real. Honestly. It is part of a cats nature to hunt and kill not just birds, but small mamals and fish. Ridiculous

Evelyn Ball

Actually cats were introduced by humans, they are not a natural predator. There is no need at all to let your cats roam outside, it’s against the law in many cities. There are numerous dangers to cats outside, ignorant humans, cars, coyotes, poison, foxes, etc. They don’t need to be killing birds or other animals as they have a hard enough life as it is especially considering all the damager our pathetic species does to them!!!!!!

Elvira Wolfer

A cat is a cat and will always hunt… but they are a potential danger to indigenous birds, reptiles and amphibiens.

Ray McMillan

I have owned many cats over many years and I seriously doubt the accurancy of these figures….my cats have killed birds yes but there success rate is maybe 10% on a hunt ….it is natural for them to hunt…I also feed and resue feral cats and have spent many an hour or three watching there behavior and I really do not believe that cats make much of an impact on bird populations…..MAN on the other hand is a different story as birds are shoot captured and poisoned at will and “pleassure” of man!!! In the areas where I feed feral… Read more »

Lynne McNulty

& PS why don’t city cats take the rats then…? Or are they just fussy ?

Lynne McNulty

Have voted yes – of course there are issues and perhaps farm cats are acceptable -but hate to see pampered pooches play with their prey. Well fed moggies stroll through my garden and take whatever they can get. I have no problem when a fox does it – they need to eat.

Jacky Alan Cockram

How can you stop them? I hate neighbours cats coming in my garden and catching wildlife that I actively encourage in my garden, also pooing on my vegetable patch uggg

Judy Rees

It has come tho this I think. I hate to have cats forced to stay inside, but these roaming cats are killers. All cats should be inside at night of course and all disexed, unless breeding.

Rosemary Keogh

Good god . Cats are hunters and that’s their job. Would you like yourself done so as we are animals too . We have go mad. Only problems we have are humans kind. Who has done more damaged to world. It’s nature . Birds eat worms. Depending on bird mouse like hawk. Cats kills mouse anx rats for us.!!!
Keeps vermin away and plunge away .
Leave cats alone for god sake we are made to do jobs we do. Birds do same it’s called nature. Owners put bells on most time comes off.

Judy Rees

And our wildlife?? That is what all caring and responsible pet owners worry about. We do not want our cats killing native birds and animals.

Rosemary Keogh

Cats do not kill animals . But only when hungry they feed . Wildlife your right . It’s wildlife not touched by humans. They do what they do and let us humans over think and what to interfer with nature. Good god. That’s next like to clamp birds beaks together so they don’t eat warms or mouses!!!. List can go on etc, leave nature to its wildlife . Humans do enough damage. Like killing animals on road . I lost 3 to road. Dogs and cats and birds .

Damien Roy

How are we gonna do that ? By asking them nicely ?

Adrian Strand

How ?

Cat Vincent

I have voted ‘Don’t know’ because I feel this is a knotty problem. Yes, outdoor cats kill birds, but there are various strategies, which have been discussed online, which owners can take to reduce if not prevent the killing. But cats also kill rats – which to farmers, horse owners, private households, grain merchants etc are an undesirable pest. If my cats kill rats I can enforce a NO POISON rule on my premises which is beneficial to the Owls. Sadly I cannot enforce it on my neighbours and recently lost a whole family of baby Eagle Owls – almost… Read more »

Arlene Labbe

I have indoor cats and do NOT understand why people think cats have a right to run loose whereas it’s against the law for dogs. WTF~!

Cat Vincent

Do you keep your dogs in the house 24/7????

Evelyn Ball

Cat Vincent Cats or dogs should not be allowed to roam off your property. That is the law in many cities. Cats can be kept in the yard with a harness. It takes some effort which obvioulsy many idiots don’t have. Cats are far better as indoor only and if they go outside they should be supervised with either a harness or a catio. Safer for the cats and the birds and other animals.

Arlene Labbe


Hilary Morrison

Yes of course, many species of birds are endangered now, cats don’t help. Owners of cats are responsible for their animals.

Jeffrey R. Williams

Who would tell the cats not to eat birds? Would we have to pay even more in taxes so the government could hire lots of observers to follow cats around? While we are at it, could we tell the mosquitoes to not bite humans? I like birds as much as anybody does, but I’m not sure how we could make this work,

Stephen Abarno