Outdoor Cat Predation

Quantifying outdoor cat predation using animal-borne cameras

Domestic cats (Felis catus) are estimated to kill between 1–4 billion birds and 6–23 billion mammals per year in the United States and between 100-350 million birds per year in Canada. However, as shown by their fourfold estimate ranges, these staggering estimates contain a high degree of uncertainty and little is known about the specific composition of prey taken. For my doctoral degree, I will use custom-designed, miniaturized, animal-borne cameras (“CatCams”) to estimate predation rates and prey composition of outdoor domestic cats in two ecologically distinct urban ecosystems. Field-tested CatCams will provide a unique cat’s eye view of the world, allowing me to accurately estimate predation rates and identify the type of prey killed by cats throughout the annual cycle. In doing so, I will build multi-predictor models to determine factors that assess variation in predation rates. I will then use these models to derive country-wide estimates of the amount of wildlife taken by cats.

Footage of a domestic cat with outdoor access climbing a tree and taking two robin nestlings from a nest.