8 species pushed to extinction by cats

Boris Johnson's cat, Larry, attacks a pigeon in London.

Larry, the cat from 10 Downing Street, chasing a pigeon.
Photo: Leon Neal (Getty Images)

It’s been thousands of years since the first cats were domesticated, but we still don’t seem to have much control over them. Many people let their cats come and go as they please, perhaps forgetting – or not caring – that domestic cats kill billions of birds and mammals every year. More than half of the pet cats in the United States spend time outdoors, and around the world, animals have contributed to the extinction of at least 33 species, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wild cats may be the worst offenders, but pets allowed to roam outdoors also harm wildlife. The situation in Australia is so dire that authorities have offered to kill some 2 million feral cats to stop their attacks on endangered species. In the United States, there are numerous programs aimed at reducing feral cat populations by trapping, neutering and releasing them, but the Fish and Wildlife Service warns that such programs do not actually protect native cat wildlife. .

Unfortunately, it is already too late for dozens of species, including the Stephens Island Wren (a songbird unable to fly), the crescent tail wallaby, and the adorable desert bandicoot. Here we highlight some of the many species currently threatened by outdoor cats.

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