Bell collars on cats reduces the number of native birds caught and killed, research suggests

Oct 14, 2010

If domestic cats wore bell collars in urban areas the numbers of native birds caught and killed could be reduced by as much as half, a new University of Otago study shows.

Dr. Yolanda van Heezik and Dr. Christoph Matthaei from the Department of Zoology - with Zoology Honours student Jo Gordon - studied cats known by their owners to be prolific hunters.

They asked owners of 37 Dunedin cats to record the number of caught and brought back home during a six-week period while wearing a belled collar, and during another six week period without a belled collar.

“We found that cats caught fewer birds while wearing the belled collar,” Dr. van Heezik says.

“This study shows it is worthwhile for to wear bells and would go some way towards reducing the huge numbers of cats catch. It won’t eliminate the problem completely, but it’s a start.”

Previous studies have shown that domestic cats kill tens of thousands of native birds each year in New Zealand.

“People might consider cats as a nuisance because they dig in their gardens, or they may be concerned about cats roaming for welfare issues, but people hardly ever think about the impacts cats are having on our native birds.

“Most cats don’t catch a lot of prey and they may bring back perhaps only one bellbird a year. But if you consider the large number of domestic cats in towns and cities, then the cumulative impact is likely to be huge,” she says.

In New Zealand urban environments, there are on average 220 domestic cats per square kilometre, and each cat has an average travelling range of about 2.2ha.

In total during the six-week study, the cats not wearing the collar caught 378 animals, including 82 birds. When the cats wore bells, they caught only 41 birds by comparison.

Explore further: Season's first dolphins killed in Japan, say activists

More information: This study has been published in the Australian journal Wildlife Research.

Provided by University of Otago

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Avian flu outbreak affecting feline world

Apr 05, 2006

Albert Osterhaus and colleagues at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, warn the role cats play in spreading bird flu is being ignored.

Asthmatic cats may be allergic to people

Oct 27, 2005

Cats have long been blamed for causing human health problems, but now Scottish veterinarians say they've found humans can cause asthma attacks in cats.

Cats for those with an allergy

Sep 15, 2006

A San Diego company says it has begun breeding hypoallergenic cats, just the thing for anyone allergic to the animals.

Curiosity to kill Australian cats

Feb 24, 2010

Australian scientists are hoping to add some truth to the old adage by using curiosity to kill some of the country's millions of wild cats.

Choosing Dry or Wet Food for Cats Makes Little Difference

Nov 29, 2007

Although society is accustomed to seeing Garfield-sized cats, obese, middle-aged cats can have a variety of problems including diabetes mellitus, which can be fatal. The causes of diabetes mellitus in cats remain unknown ...

Recommended for you

Global wild tiger population to be counted by 2016

18 hours ago

Thirteen countries with wild tiger populations agreed Tuesday to take part in a global count to establish how many of the critically endangered animals are left and improve policies to protect them.

Scientists discover tropical tree microbiome in Panama

Sep 15, 2014

Human skin and gut microbes influence processes from digestion to disease resistance. Despite the fact that tropical forests are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, more is known about ...

How are hybridized species affecting wildlife?

Sep 15, 2014

Researchers who transplanted combinations of wild, domesticated, and domesticated-wild hybridized populations of a fish species to new environments found that within 5 to 11 generations, selection could remove ...

User comments : 0