In Defense Of Garden Cats
As a scientist, I’d love to tell you that I carefully examined the data collection methods and statistics presented in the paper, but Nature Communications is one of those journals who publish manuscripts, usually for a fee, from authors (who are themselves required to publish or perish from their respective academic jobs) and then Nature Communications turns around and charges everyone else to read those articles, with no kick-back to the authors or the source of research funds for the study.
Setting aside that minor rant, Loss’s paper estimates, not from their own research but by an analysis of other published studies measuring kill rates in urban and rural environments, and by using other various extrapolations and predictions of cat, bird, and small mammal populations, that “free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 20.7 billion mammals annually.” I’m willing, however to set those concerns aside and allow for the fact that domestic cats may kill around 3 billion birds and 20 billion small mammals annually.
Twenty billion dead mice means twenty billion less roses that have canes chewed away, twenty billion less rats eating seed from my bird feeders and corn from my garden, and twenty billion less snakes in my garden that would have proliferated to eat the mice if the cats didn’t.
Man, in fact, has been responsible for the extinction of many more species than the domestic cat, so perhaps we should talk about limiting our own numbers before we throw stones at the cats.
I would, personally, rather find more mouse parts strewn around the barn floor than find the snakes that would otherwise be hunting for the mice, so if it comes to a choice between having barn pigeons and having cats, the barn pigeons are just going to have to toughen up.