Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cats and Wildlife

The first intake of 2007 at Portland Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center was an adult female robin that had been caught by a cat. The cat’s distraught owner had rushed the robin over to Portland Audubon in the hope that we could repair her injuries. We treated the robin for shock, cleaned her wounds, placed her in an intensive care unit, and started her on a course of antibiotics. However, by the time we arrived the following morning, she was dead. A post-mortem exam revealed that she had suffered numerous puncture wounds and extensive internal injuries. Sadly, this is a story that will repeat itself more than a thousand times before the year is complete.
Cats account for nearly 40% of the animal intakes at our Wildlife Care Center, the number one cause of injury by a wide margin. This statistic includes animals wounded in direct attacks by cats, animals orphaned after cats have predated on their parents, and healthy youngsters removed from the wild by citizens concerned about imminent predation by cats. Cats are also the number one cause of mortality at our Center. Because of the trauma and infection associated with cat predation, animals injured in cat attacks have only a 16% chance of survival, less than a third of the survival rate of all other causes of injury combined. Wildlife rehabilitation centers across the state and the nation report very similar experiences and what we see is only the tip of the iceberg; numerous studies conservatively estimate that cat predation accounts for hundreds of millions of bird deaths each year.1

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