And the cats are full, and the birds are safe


There is one problem with domestic cats – they exterminate many birds and small animals. By some estimates, almost billions of animals are killed every year by cats. Of course, there are those among them who saw birds only through the window of the 10th floor. But many walk for pleasure, living with the owners in private houses, or even in apartment buildings, where everyone is loyal to walking cats. They could be locked up, but this is not a completely humane measure, both in relation to cats and, to some extent, in relation to the owners. Tying a bell to a cat’s neck is also not always possible: often a cat or a cat starts to get nervous, and they can be understood.

Employees Exeter University found a great solution here. In an article in Current Biology they write that in order to calm the predatory instincts of seals, they need to be better fed. “Better” means “more meat”, which means that cat food should be as similar to natural prey as possible. But it’s not just food: in order for cats to hunt less on the surrounding fauna, you need to play with them every day, even if not for long.

The researchers conducted an experiment with 355 domestic cats and cats. First, their owners had to take into account every victim that the cat brought into the house in order to understand the hunting tendencies of each animal. Then all the cats were divided into several groups: some were switched to food in which cereal supplements were replaced with animal protein for a month and a half; the hosts specially played with others every day for 5-10 minutes; the third had to get food from a special feeder, with which they still had to figure out how to get to the food; the fourth simply put a bell or a collar around their necks, warning the birds about the approach of a cat. Finally, the cats in the fifth group continued to live as they did.

It turned out that on more meaty food, cats bring 36% less prey into the house. Seals that were allowed to play with a fake mouse or a ball in feathers brought 25% fewer animals into the house, and these percentages accounted for more of small animals than birds.

Cats that had to eat from some ingenious feeder, on the contrary, began to bring more prey. The bell on the neck had no effect on the hunting success of the seals. A special collar, which warned birds about the approach of a cat, helped to reduce the number of killed birds by 42%, but cats with a collar killed small animals as much as without a collar.

Everything is clear about the sedative effect of games. As for food, we already wrote that felines have evolved as “super carnivores” – in the sense that they eat only meat; in contrast to the same canines, which, in general, are relatively omnivorous. At the same time, domestic dogs have been domesticated for a long time and well, cats, in comparison with them, remain largely untamed. And their food requirements are appropriate.

Probably, if you combine the food with a smarter one and play with an artificial mouse, the hunting urges of the cats will subside completely, and the small fauna will be saved.


Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by www.nkj.ru.

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