Cats Named Among the Most Problematic Invasive Species in The World


Cats have long been adored as pets, known for their independent and aloof nature. However, a recent study published by Nature Communications has shed light on a more problematic aspect of our feline friends. Cats have been named among the world's most problematic invasive species, wreaking havoc on ecosystems around the globe. With a staggering number of over 2000 species being consumed by cats, this research has raised concerns about the impact they have on biodiversity.

a domestic cat

Since their domestication over 9000 years ago, cats, scientifically known as Felis catus, have been introduced to various parts of the world by humans. With the exception of Antarctica, cats now inhabit every continent and have been introduced to numerous islands. This widespread distribution has resulted in disruptive consequences for many ecosystems, making cats amongst the most widely distributed species on the planet.

The study highlights cats' effectiveness as predators, primarily due to their opportunistic nature and obligate carnivorous diet. Cats are capable of surviving solely on preformed and metabolic water found in food for months on end. With their ability to thrive exclusively on animal tissue, they have become adept at hunting and consuming a wide range of species.

The research reveals that cats consume a staggering number of species across various taxonomic groups. They eat 981 species of birds, 463 species of reptiles, 431 species of mammals, 119 species of insects, and 57 species of amphibians. Disturbingly, approximately 16.65% of the total number of species consumed by cats are classified as being of conservation concern.

The findings of this study have significant implications for conservation efforts worldwide. Cats have been identified as one of the most problematic invasive species due to their indiscriminate predation. Their relentless hunting activities disrupt ecosystem balance and contribute to the decline of vulnerable species.

Led by Christopher Lepczyk from Auburn University in the US, this study is the most comprehensive global synthesis of cat diets to date. It is possibly the largest study conducted on any species worldwide. The researchers compiled information on cat diets from a variety of sources, including peer-reviewed studies and gray literature. However, they acknowledge that their estimates are conservative and anticipate further growth as more research is completed.


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