Cats’ impact on wildlife goes beyond predation

Cats’ impact on wildlife goes beyond just predation. Credit: Till Westermayer

While free-roaming domestic cats drive down populations of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians across the globe, research reveals that their impact goes beyond just killing. Researchers conducting a literature review on the impacts of cats (Felis catus) in the wild found the felines spread diseases like toxoplasmosis and can evoke stress and fear in other animals, resulting in secondary impacts on populations. But research mostly focuses on direct predation rather than secondary effects, they found. The researchers discovered other data gaps, too. Analysis of 332 publications showed that while research has been conducted on cats in parts of Australia, North America and Europe, less work has been done on the impact of cats in Africa, Asia and South America. “The identified areas of needed research into cat impacts on wildlife will be critical to further clarifying the role of cats in global wildlife declines and to implementing science-driven policy and management that benefit conservation efforts,” the authors of the study wrote.

Read the study at the Journal of Animal Ecology.