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(34,149 posts)
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 07:35 PM Mar 2021

Meatier meals and more playtime might reduce cats' toll on wildlife

Meatier meals and more playtime might reduce cats’ toll on wildlife
Simple steps to keep felines happy can also keep more wild birds and mammals alive

By Jonathan Lambert
February 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

Surprisingly simple measures might keep domestic cats from killing a lot of wildlife.


Owners then implemented one of a handful of interventions for six weeks: switching to a grain-free, high-meat commercially available food; playing for five to 10 minutes each day; putting their cat’s normal food in a puzzle feeder; and existing methods like bells or Birdsbesafe collars. Some owners didn’t change anything, but continued tracking their cats.

Cats fed the meat-rich diet brought home 36 percent less prey, on average, than they did before the diet change, the team calculated. For instance, a cat that normally brings home a daily catch would instead return about 20 critters a month. “This might not seem like very much,” McDonald says of the drop. But “a very large cat population means that if this average were applied across the board, it would result in very many millions fewer deaths.”

Felines treated to playtime, which consisted of owners getting their cats to stalk, chase and pounce on a feather toy and then giving cats a mouse toy to bite, returned 25 percent less prey, though that drop came mostly from mammals, not birds. Cats that started using puzzle feeders actually brought home more wildlife. Bells had no discernible effect, while cats fitted with Birdsbesafe collars brought home 42 percent fewer birds, but roughly the same number of mammals, which aligns with previous research.

More: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cat-meat-meals-diet-playtime-wildlife-birds

Given that the study shows that cats fed meatier diets hunted less, perhaps the standard cat fare is not rich enough in nutrients. That, and boredom by cats that don't get enough stimulation, could be the major reason cats that are allowed to run free hunt birds and small mammals.

My three are indoor only cats, but they certainly enjoy watching the birds and squirrels outside - and at least one of them would be very happy to chase them, though that could be that he spent over a month outside when he got loose and returned to his old home and got used to hunting for his food.
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Meatier meals and more playtime might reduce cats' toll on wildlife (Original Post) csziggy Mar 2021 OP
Interesting study. We recently adopted an abused cat who spent spooky3 Mar 2021 #1
I've never been one to fix meals for our cats csziggy Mar 2021 #2
read labels Kali Mar 2021 #4
True - though the dried cat food ours seem to like best has freeze dried chicken meat in it csziggy Mar 2021 #5
It does sound like it might have been a bad bag. Kali Mar 2021 #6
interesting about the collars Kali Mar 2021 #3
You can purchase frozen multigraincracker Mar 2021 #7
I'm not sure I could handle feeder mice csziggy Mar 2021 #9
Keeping pets safe indoors is also quite helpful quakerboy Mar 2021 #8
Yes, this set of my cats are totally indoor csziggy Mar 2021 #10
Not much help in my neighborhood Random Boomer Mar 2021 #11
All About Cats: Ziwi Cat Food Review Donkees Mar 2021 #12


(34,696 posts)
1. Interesting study. We recently adopted an abused cat who spent
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 08:01 PM
Mar 2021

a lot of time outside, because of being dumped or for other reasons. He loves to play and is often too rough with people and pets. But he has no interest at all in going outside, even though the other pets go into their back yard for short periods. This is good, because I can't trust him to stay in his yard and he might try to kill birds and squirrels.


(34,149 posts)
2. I've never been one to fix meals for our cats
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 08:09 PM
Mar 2021

But this study makes me think maybe I should - or at the very least feed canned food more often to make sure they get enough meat.

The one cat that got loose his first week here is the only interested in going outside. Once we got him back, we made sure to keep him confined for several weeks. He's since gotten out a few times, but now he knows this is his home and he doesn't spend more than a night outside. But he will run from window to window chasing the squirrels - and the first time we let him onto the screened porch, he dashed full tilt at a squirrel before he discovered the screen was there. Now he just spends most of his time on the porch, watching the birds and outside critters. He was an owner surrender when my friend's daughter adopted him, then she couldn't keep him and we adopted him, so I don't think he spent much time outside.

The other two cats are Sabra, who was found as a kitten, and Maya who was an adult when she was rescued and had a litter of kittens. But Maya seems less interested in the wildlife than the other two. I think Maya knows she has it good, plus she is a year older and having been a mother, more sedate.


(34,149 posts)
5. True - though the dried cat food ours seem to like best has freeze dried chicken meat in it
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 08:25 PM
Mar 2021

Thanks from your recommendation in my thread a few weeks back about cat food. Unfortunately, not one of them would eat the Wellness we tried on them. I left portions down for over twelve hours and they wouldn't touch it. Then we tried mixing it with other brands - they'd pick out all the other stuff and leave the Wellness.

Maybe the bag was stale or something? Anyway, after trying to give it away (no one wanted it, not even the barn cats) we threw it out for the crows. They seemed to enjoy it, but they will eat old rotten banana peels.

I guess I will pick up some chicken breasts, or maybe ground chicken, and freeze small quantities to give to the cats. Does it need to be cooked?


(55,086 posts)
6. It does sound like it might have been a bad bag.
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 09:16 PM
Mar 2021

There are different sides to raw vs cooked, and also be aware some pets develope alergies to not only grain, but some meats and chicken is the major one. It would depend if you're feeding treats or full time as of course they need other nutrients if you're going to go completely homemade diet. I have a good recipe somewhere because I used to do that for one of my cats I'll have to look it up when I get back to the house.


(55,086 posts)
3. interesting about the collars
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 08:15 PM
Mar 2021

I don't care how many mammals the cats get, that is a major reason I have cats, but I don't like them getting birds. bonus points for humiliating clown look.


(34,149 posts)
9. I'm not sure I could handle feeder mice
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 11:26 PM
Mar 2021

I even feel sorry for the mice the barn cats catch in the feed room!

I have seen the special refrigerated stuff for pets and might go for something like that. With the pandemic I am sort of burned out on cooking anything. My husband used to go out three nights a week to play RPG games and bridge. Now he's home seven nights a week and I have to plan and cook meals for both of us, Before, I'd eat leftovers or scrounge simple stuff like egg sandwiches or just snacks.

Adding planning meals for the cats might put me over the edge!


(13,949 posts)
8. Keeping pets safe indoors is also quite helpful
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 10:32 PM
Mar 2021

Extraordinarily few birds inside my home to be predated. Also i keep no coyotes or antifreeze lying around. Makes for a longer lived cat and a better environment for wildlife.


(34,149 posts)
10. Yes, this set of my cats are totally indoor
Sun Mar 14, 2021, 11:33 PM
Mar 2021

Except for Lucas, who has gotten out a few times, once disappearing for a month, Now I think he has adapted to being an indoor cat again and while he watches us go in and out, he no longer tries to sneak out while we are coming and going.

Random Boomer

(4,177 posts)
11. Not much help in my neighborhood
Mon Mar 15, 2021, 05:42 PM
Mar 2021

Most of the cats in my neighborhood are either ferals or strays (many abandoned when owners were evicted -- that happens a lot around here). I'm not sure if feeding them helps or hurts -- it makes them less reliant on hunting, but it also means more of them survive.

We put dry food out in one of our garages, which we've turned into a shelter for a dwarf feral cat that was born in our back alley about 6 years ago. We started feeding him when he was a kitten, but he still hisses at me if I get too close. We did manage to trap him for neutering, and he hangs around our backyard, so we think of him as our cat, even if he doesn't. Fortunately for the local wildlife, he can't hunt worth a damn.

A few other strays will help themselves to the feeder, but the other ferals won't come in the yard, so it hasn't turned into Grand Central (Feeding) Station.


(31,681 posts)
12. All About Cats: Ziwi Cat Food Review
Tue Mar 16, 2021, 12:46 PM
Mar 2021

Feb 5, 2021

Ziwi (formerly known as Ziwi Peak) is a popular cat food brand emphasizing New Zealand’s world-famous food safety and quality standards. With a selection including air-dried dry food and canned food packed with muscle meat, organs, and even tripe, Ziwi's offering is as interesting as its sourcing and manufacturing practices.

Watch this week’s video to learn more about Ziwi and whether or not this brand is a good choice.

Video Navigation:

0:00​ Introduction
0:13​ Brand History
0:24​ Sourcing and Manufacturing
1:26​ Product Selection
3:20​ Recall History
3:50​ Product Reviews
4:03​ Ziwi Mackerel and Lamb Recipe Air-Dried Food
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