– According to statistics, a domestic cat in Germany kills an average of more than 14 birds a year. But cat lovers can do their part to protect the birds — by simply playing more with their four-legged friends, among other things.
Every year, in Germany alone, about 200 million birds become their victims. The “criminals” have a lot of Germans at home: cats. With over 14 million domestic cats living in Germany, four-legged friends are at the top of the popularity list. In some countries, especially islands, supposedly cute and innocent pets are “certainly certain death for many bird species, some of which cannot fly,” said Lars Lachmann, a bird expert with the German Conservation Union.
In the Federal Republic, the situation is different: there are no flightless bird species in this country, as there have always been many land-based predators. Cats won’t “completely wipe out all bird species” in Germany, Lachmann said. However, they can “strongly damage bird populations in some places” – especially in areas of human settlements. According to Lachmann, the bird population is “in many cases definitely lower than without cats.” In extreme cases, a very high density of cats can even give the impression that there are no more birds in the garden.
But, of course, not all cats are fundamentally dangerous – it is much more important to distinguish: “house tigers” and “tramps” hunt more to pass the time, and therefore are harmless to the bird world. However, wild domestic cats pose a great danger: they have to cover all their nutritional needs from human waste and hunting for small animals. “If it were possible to reduce the population of wild domestic cats, the problem would certainly be reduced to a tolerable level,” Lachmann said in an interview on the website of the Conservation Union.
At the same time, wild domestic cats are also dangerous for rare wild cats. According to Lachmann, “hybridization” of both species occurs again and again in the forest. Possible consequences: the extinction of true wild cats. As a measure to prevent such incidents, Lachmann proposes a comprehensive castration and neutering program for all wild domestic animals, modeled on the city of Paderborn, as well as a corresponding castration and identification obligation for domestic cats that are allowed to go outside. outside: “This will cause the feral cat population to drop significantly in a short time, and there will also be no more ‘replenishment’ from free cats that breed feral cats,” Lachmann said. In addition, neutered cats were much less likely to have “hunting fever”.
Lachmann sees this Paderborn model as a win-win situation: “The problem of feral cats can be solved without killing a single cat, and bird protection also benefits from this.” He expects less success from the discussed issue of the possible introduction of a cat tax. This is not only not feasible from a societal point of view, but also not very effective – or even counterproductive, since this measure would more likely result in the release or abandonment of pet cats by cat owners.
But even without such large-scale decisions, each individual cat owner can do their part to protect the birds—in addition to castration: Owners should ensure that their cat is not outside during the morning hours between mid-May and mid-May, Lachmann says. July. It is at this time that most young birds fly out.
Owners can also reduce their hunting ambitions by playing with them a lot. Cat-repellent cuff rings can protect vulnerable bird nest trees. The bell on a cat’s collar does not allow you to catch healthy adult birds, but for four-legged friends it is very inconvenient.