HOW RESPONSIBLE HUMANS CAN REDUCE THE IMPACT OF CATS ON WILDLIFE
By NYZA FAUSTINE HO
Cats require protein-rich food and enjoy stimulating activities, which is why it makes sense that they are such efficient hunters. However, in most neighborhoods, community cats roam freely and prey after wild animals, leading to a significant decline in the population of certain species, such as birds and other small animals.Natural predators help provide balance to the ecosystem. However, if cats are introduced to a new environment, they can easily become apex predators who can harm natural wildlife in the area.As responsible cat parents, you can do many things to help local animals while keeping your cats healthy and happy.
WHY CATS LIKE THE OUTDOORS
Cats are obligate carnivores who need a diet rich in protein and fat. And unlike with humans, carbohydrates aren’t essential in their diet. The cats we care for at home often eat commercial food, and the ones we find in stores aren’t created equal.Adult cats thrive with food that has 26% protein; growing kittens need more. However, the options offered by different brands don’t necessarily carry the ideal numbers for your cat.Cats also need enough stimulation. If they don’t get enough playtime at home, they may wander outdoors to play or hunt, potentially putting themselves in harm’s way. As responsible cat parents, we can provide toys and spend time with the felines whom we love. (It’s also best to keep cats indoors, for their safety and that of other animals. – Ed.)
WHY CATS SHOULD BE NEUTERED AND KEPT INDOORS
Cats are wonderful animals, but allowing them outdoors unattended and keeping them intact (instead of having them neutered) can be disastrous for several reasons.
CATS CAN HURT OTHER ANIMALS
It’s natural for cats to hunt other animals – it’s instinctive for them. However, they might prey on animals who are already deemed vulnerable or endangered as a species. This throws the ecosystem off-balance, not to mention putting an entire species at risk, which can be avoided if cats were to remain indoors.
CATS CAN CATCH DISEASE OUTSIDE
Not everything your cat puts in their mouth is good for them; some of them can be toxic to them, while others have illnesses that your cat might catch.
OUTDOOR CATS GET TERRITORIAL
Habitat loss, which is mostly caused by human activities, is a problem that many wild animals face. The least we can do is keep their animal companions indoors to ensure that the animals who don’t live in human homes don’t get pushed out of their territory or lose more resources.Cats who aren’t spayed or neutered can breed rather quickly. The more of them there are, the fewer resources they have to share. Outdoor cats are also more likely to get into fights – that means bite wounds that can get infected, blood loss, or serious injuries that could keep them from finding their way back home.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There are many ways you can help protect both your cat and other animals, all the while strengthening your bond with your furry friend.
FEED YOUR CAT HEALTHY FOOD
To keep your cat from craving for wild animals, make sure they get the nutrition they need. This also includes vitamin and mineral supplements as needed. Studies suggest that a grain-free diet high in protein can lower their hunting instincts.
GO FOR BELLS AND COLLARS
During supervised outdoor time with your cat, put a brightly-colored collar on them, preferably with a small bell. This alerts other animals to their presence, keeping them away while your cat rolls on the grass and enjoys the fresh air.
PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAY
Cats tend to take it out on furniture – not to mention other animals – if they feel bored. Spending time to play with your cat keeps them occupied and gives them an outlet to burn extra energy. At the same time, it strengthens your bond with them.