There is no question that birds are better off when cats stay indoors. Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that every year in the United States alone, cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. Feline predators include both domestic cats that spend time outdoors and stray cats that live in the wild, sometimes as part of a colony.
Life for outdoor cats is risky. They can get hit by cars; attacked by dogs, other cats, coyotes or wildlife; contract fatal diseases, such as rabies, feline distemper, or feline immunodeficiency virus; get lost, stolen, or poisoned; or suffer during severe weather conditions. Outdoor cats lead considerably shorter lives on average than cats kept exclusively indoors.
Free-roaming and feral cats also pose a health hazard to humans from the spread of diseases such as rabies and toxoplasmosis. Even in ‘managed’ colonies all cats cannot always be vaccinated, and infected animals may be even harder to catch in a timely manner before they infect other animals or humans.
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Primary Birds Impacted
- Millions of common songbirds, such as the Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, and American Goldfinch and long-distance migrants such as Indigo Bunting, Yellow Warbler, and Dark-eyed Junco.
- Birds that nest or feed on the ground, such as Song Sparrow, Field Sparrow, and Common Yellowthroat.
Cat owners should keep their cats indoors. There are a number of ways that people can help their cats adjust to an indoor lifestyle. Many veterinarians and animal welfare organizations support keeping cats indoors for their own safety, as well as to prevent them from killing wildlife. Outdoor cat colonies, sustained through the practice of Trap Neuter Release are also bad for birds, do not help reduce the overpopulation of feral cats, and are inhumane for the cats, who lead short, harsh lives.
Find out more information about stray and feral cats in the Indianapolis area, and how you can be part of the solution, by visiting websites for IndyFeral , FACE Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic, and Hamilton County Low Cost Spay Neuter Clinic.
American Bird Conservancy
Audubon's partner, American Bird Conservancy, has been the leading voice on keeping cats indoors. ABC has produced a wealth of resources to inform the public about this issue. Materials include fact sheets, posters, the popular Cats, Birds, and You brochure, the Cats Indoors Educator’s Guide for Grades K-6, print and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs), and more. See all the materials ABC offers for download or purchase.
Researchers from the University of Georgia equipped 60 roaming house cats with cameras to see what they were up to when outside. The results were not good for wildlife. Read the story HERE
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Lights Out Indy
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