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Killers among us

By the Numbers

Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Killers among us
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The estimated number of birds killed each year in the United States by domesticated cats, according to the American Bird Conservancy. Soon, Toronto could ban free-roaming felines: The City Council on July 6 voted to include cats in a plan pushed by city officials to prohibit pets from being outside the home without a leash. An earlier proposal had allowed exceptions for cats and pigeons, but after hearing from an environmentalist and former city councilor, the council voted to strip the cat exemption. That might be bad news for cats but good news for the city’s birds and small mammals. Felis catus may seem cute and cuddly, but domesticated cats are expert assassins. Until recently, scientists didn’t fully understand just how much killing cats were doing. A 2020 South African study revealed that for every one animal brought home by a free-roaming cat, four more kills were left in the field.


The number of U.S. households that own a cat, according to Statista.


The number of species extinctions attributable to domesticated cats, according to a 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


The potential number of mammals killed every year by the typical stray or feral cat, according to a 2013 study published in Nature Communications.


The share of cats whose owners believed they stayed inside overnight that actually stalked the night killing animals, according to a 2017 Australian study.


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