Cats Protection recognises that cats are naturally predatory animals. However, there is no reliable research about the effects of their hunting habits on declining numbers of birds and small mammals.
In addition to cats, many factors for bird and small mammal species loss have been cited in various research studies. These include mismanagement and loss of traditional wildlife habitat, global warming and climate change, decline in native flora, the increased use of pesticides and fertilisers in modern farming practices, garden makeovers, modern house roofing practices and the effects of different bird species on each other.
Research by the UK’s leading ornithological organisation, the RSPB, has not shown that cats are the primary cause of decline in numbers of any bird of conservation concern, which includes the house sparrow and the song thrush. Some bird species that have undergone serious population decline, such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings, rarely encounter cats, therefore it is difficult to attribute their decline to felines. Similarly, the blue tit, which is second in the list of most frequently killed garden bird, is actually increasing in numbers in the UK. In addition, it should be noted that cats tend to kill weak and sickly birds.
Cats Protection recommends a number of ways that owners can help reduce the predatory behaviour of cats. Keeping cats indoors when birds are at their most active, during the early morning and evening can make a huge difference. Neutering cats also helps as neutered cats tend to stay closer to the home. A bird table is a better alternative to placing bird feed on the ground, and this should be surrounded with strong-smelling substances which cats dislike such as chicken manure, citrus peel or pellets of lion dung.