Your cat is a murderer. While I—and others—have been beating this homicidal cat drum for years, a new report from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service has found that, on average, domestic and feral American cats kill about 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion (mostly native) mammals per year.
To give you a sense: the average human being blinks eight million times in a single year. So, every time you close and open your eyes, about 1,875 animals are being killed by cats in America.
The Times offers more context:
The estimated kill rates are two to four times higher than mortality figures previously bandied about, and position the domestic cat as one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windmills, and other so-called anthropogenic causes.
According to the study, free-roaming domestic cats account for only about 29 percent of dead birds and 11 percent of dead mammals. The real problem, researchers say, is the country’s growing feral cat population, currently estimated to be somewhere around 80 million.