Feeding your cat a very meaty diet may mean it kills less wildlife
In a small trial in the UK, pet cats fed on an unusually meaty diet brought home 36 per cent fewer prey animals than cats given a typical diet.
"Domestic cats seem to hunt less when their diets are richer in animal-sourced protein, suggesting that feeding cats more meat could help reduce their impact on wildlife.
In a 12-week trial of 355 cats across 219 households in south-west England, cats fed a grain-free diet in which the proteins were largely meat-derived brought home 36 per cent fewer prey animals on average compared with those that were kept on their standard cat food diet, in which some of the protein is plant-derived.
“In as far as possible, we matched protein and energy content of the food ration,” says Robbie McDonald at the University of Exeter, UK, who led the study.
The study also found that increasing object play, by asking owners to spend 5 to 10 minutes per day playing with their pets using toys, resulted in cats bringing home 25 per cent less prey.
“Predation of wildlife by cats is an ecological and a social problem,” says McDonald. It has been estimated that in the US alone, domestic cats kill at least 1.3 billion birds and 6.3 billion small mammals each year. In New Zealand, there is some evidence that cats have contributed to the decline of native species."
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