Can your domestic kitten be one of the “cape killer cats”?

In 1983, archaeologists who excavated 8,000-year-old ruins in Cyprus discovered the remains of the jawbone of Feliscatus, the ancestor of their cat.

Among us unfamiliar with the Mediterranean, Cyprus is an island that would not have had a naturally occurring wild cat population.

In addition to the inability of cats to swim from the mainland to the island, cat owners are familiar with how they feel about swimming.

The only plausible explanation was that the cat was brought to the island by the sailors of the time. Yes, it could have been a wild cat, but unless the cat is a domesticated pet, our ancient cousins ​​bring an angry, squeaky cat on a journey with them. There is no logical reason.

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Later, in 2004, while digging up an older site in Cyprus, it was discovered that the body of a cat was buried with the body of a human. This proved that the cat was tamed at least 9500 years ago.

According to a study published by Science Magazine in May 2007, all domestic cats found today are the ancestors of the Middle Eastern wildcat Felissylvestris. Its name literally means “forest cat”. Several researchers in this study believed that domestication of cats began 12000 years ago.

This may seem a bit difficult given the age of the Cyprus specimens, which is 9500, but when we realized that humans were no longer nomads and began to settle at the same time, this was It makes sense.

As seen today, large human settlements and large grain storage result in rodents and other pests, which in turn bring in other small predators such as wildcats, birds of prey and snakes. I did.

Like dogs tamed thousands of years ago, humans find cats useful and take care of them because they help mice and mice, otherwise they thin out crops and store grain. started.

Unlike dogs, cats have always been in conflict with human “caretakers.” Many owners agree that cats appear to have mixed emotions when it comes to humans. This may indicate a deep connection to their wild instincts.

The relationship is very clear when examining the effects of domestic cat predation on wild bird and small mammal populations around the world.

Cats are pets that require relatively little maintenance. They don’t have to be very careful, they know where to go to the bathroom, they don’t need a lot of space, they don’t need a loud bark, they literally clean themselves. We do not claim to be a good pet to keep, especially in densely populated cities and apartment buildings.

Globally, domestic and stray cats kill billions of native birds, mammals and reptiles. Cats are responsible for the extinction of 33 native birds, reptiles and mammals on the island, according to records from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

According to a survey published on in January 2013, cats were the cause of the estimated hundreds of millions of bird deaths per year in the United States alone. The study concluded that free-range cats kill an estimated 1.3-4 billion birds and 6.3-22.3 billion mammals annually, with stray cats accounting for the majority of these deaths.

Although it is widely believed that cats bring their killings home as a gift to us, many studies use this only as an indicator of the degree of cat predation on local wildlife.

A 2012 UK-based study by Dr. Rebecca Thomas revealed that an estimated 18.3 birds in the study population were killed annually by domestic cats. This is higher than a “take-away” killing, simply because it was logically assumed that the cat would not bring home all the killed prey.

This was confirmed by a survey conducted in Cape Town in 2020. Researchers Sharon George, Koebraa Peter, and Frances Morling conducted a study involving 22 Cape Town suburbs in a sample population of 130 cats.

According to previous studies, the density of cats in Cape Town averages 150-300 per square kilometer, which is lower than in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States, but the density of wild cats such as Caracal and African wildcats. It is 300 times.

Researchers have found that, as in the UK study, researchers rarely bring home prey that cats may have killed. Students turned to the high-tech “Kitty-Cams,” an ultra-lightweight color camera that lets you see what your cat is looking at.

Kittycam was tested in nine suburbs and changed numbers as soon as the footage began to appear. An average of 16 “take-away” killings were found to be significantly below the actual data showing that cats killed and ate 80% of their prey on the spot. So 16 times was only 20% of the average cat. To kill.

This vast underestimation was not the only discovery made by young researchers. Also, because cats are rarely brought home, reptiles and amphibians that were not previously considered common prey were rarely brought home. The use of Kitty-Cam helped researchers understand that the average number of cats killed per cat was about 90 per year, not 16 in previous estimates.

An overall study concluded that the estimated total mortality rate is about 27.5 million per year, with an estimated 300,000 cats in and around Cape Town. This extraordinary number includes only the city of Cape Town.

The cat food industry estimates that South Africa has a total of 2.4 million domestic cats. Using the Cape Town cat killing rate, it is possible to kill about 216 million prey annually nationwide. ..

The main concern about the results of this study is that at least 2,200 cats live within 150 meters of the edge of Table Mountain National Park. These cats consume an estimated 200,000 prey, many of which may have been taken from within the park or lost in the garden adjacent to the park.

As a cat owner, you can discourage this behavior by attaching a bell to the cat’s collar to warn birds and mammals of its existence. Unfortunately, reptiles have no viable hearing, so cats can start killing more cats.

You can get a cat bib, which helps prevent it from bouncing, but does not prevent it from eating, walking or drinking. Another viable idea is to create an enclosed backyard or patio area that keeps cats out. This allows cats to explore the outdoors without endangering the lives of our indigenous creatures.

Can your domestic kitten be one of the “cape killer cats”?

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