|Felis catus, a popular pet. This one is feral.|
Yep, the common house cat is an invasive species. You may ask, "how so?" Well, cats are actually incredibly destructive creatures because they hunt and kill wildlife. So, every feral cat and every domestic cat that is either kept outside or allowed outside puts many local species in great danger. These cats have helped lead to the decline or possibly even the extinction of many species. Cats are now on the list of 100 World's Worst Invasives at #38. The similarly sized wildcat species of Africa, Europe, and Asia are not included in this, even though the domestic cat is believed to have been domesticated from the African wildcats.
|A sparrow that died by this pet cat's jaws|
If you have a cat, there are several common suggestions to help protect wildlife, which include having the cat wear a bell and keeping it in at night. However, studies have mixed results as to whether these are effective methods. When it comes to feral cats, management methods are quite different, and are most aggressive where they pose the greatest danger to native species.
The danger to wildlife is part of the reason why the cats I currently live with are not allowed outside at all. Ginny was a feral-born cat and she would do anything to avoid being outside ever again. Here's another reason to never let your cat outside: indoor cats generally live between fifteen and eighteen years. Outdoor cats, on the other hand, only live an average of less than three years. When we adopted Ginny, she was skinny, very sick, and her growth was stunted. In my opinion, just as you should never feed wildlife you should never feed feral animals either. It makes their population explode, they lose their fear of people, and they become dependent on the food. This can lead to a lot of suffering as well as potential danger to people if the food supply stops.
Images are from Wikimedia Commons under creative commons licenses: one, two