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A new study has suggested that pet cats kill up to 270 million animals per year in the United Kingdom alone.
Researchers from the University of Reading and Royal Holloway University of London devised that the problem could have a major impact on the local environment and even suggested restricting cat access in some areas.
The study found that suburban cats living on the edge of green spaces kill an average of 34 animals a year each, while those in more densely populated suburbs kill around 15 animals each.
Unsurprisingly, the most commonly killed animal were birds, with cats with more access to green areas killing more robins, and others killing more blackbirds.
Unfortunately, that cute little bell around their collar was no deterrent for prey, with those cats actually bringing home the most kills.
Seriously effective hunting, considering the bell would give away their location.
Dr Rebecca Thomas, from the Royal Holloway University of London, said: “They are a non-native species.
“They reach incredibly - and unnaturally - high densities, especially in suburban environments.
“They get fed by their owners and given veterinary care so you could consider them mini super predators.”
The study claimed there were an estimated 9.5 million pet cats owned in Britain and noted that the mere presence of cats could have a devastating impact on other animals in the area.
Even when cats aren’t directly killing other animals, those animals are programmed to change their behaviour, either by reducing feeding in order to remove the chances of being attacked or staying vigilant and leaving a nest unprotected.
The cats were said to also carry potentially harmful diseases that could be transmitted to other wildlife.
The researchers tracked the movements and amount of prey killed by 79 cats living across Berkshire and Hampshire over a year.
The results were published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, with the team concluding: “A simple extrapolation based on the predation rates found in this study suggests that the 9.5million pet cats in Great Britain may kill in the region of 160-270 million prey individuals per year.”
They added: “Domestic cats bring great joy and companionship to their owners, with benefits for mental health and well-being.
“But they also cause the loss of tens of millions of animals each year through predation, which in some cases may go beyond animal welfare concerns and become conservation concerns.”
The study also concluded that leaving food out for the pets did not deter them from seeking out prey.