Feral cats are small mammal specialist hunters. They will also kill reptiles and are responsible for the fact that lizards are extinct in all major European cities.
Domestic cats are what conservation
biologists refer to as 'subsidised exotic predators'. Their population
density can reach more than 100 times that of native carnivores, and
around 35% of households own a cat. There have been quite a few studies
of domestic cat hunting behaviour, all of which show broadly similar
results. Typically, domestic cats spend between 5 and 9 hours per day
About half of these cats hunt, and 70 - 90% of their target
prey are small mammals. They frequent gardens and nearby land if it is
relatively open (for example, pasture or the fringes of sparse
woodland). Scientists monitoring hunting domestic cats observe that they
hunt about 5 or 6 times more frequently than their owners estimate.
manage to capture prey on about a quarter of their attempts. Half of
the prey escapes alive, so their total kill rate works out at around
13%, or about 2 kills a week. This kill rate is more than three times as
high as owners estimate. Nevertheless, this is quite an inefficient
kill rate, and domestic cats are only responsible for low prey numbers
in quite small geographic areas.
So long as the metapopulation of prey
animals is healthy, and the population density of domestic cats not
unusually high, they rarely threaten small mammal populations in Europe,
where they have been established for centuries.
Feral cats, as Australia knows to its cost, are an entirely different
matter. They are not 'subsidised' (ie not receiving supplementary
feeding) and so are hunting for a living.
The domestic or feral cat Felis catus (syn F. sylvestris catus) is a threat to the population of Wild Cat F. sylvestris in the Brenne, as interbreeding is common.
Private Guide for Groups in the Loire Valley - At Loire Valley Time Travel most of our clients book us for a private tour in our classic 1950s Citroen cars, Celestine and Claudette. Using classic cars ...