Impact of predation by domestic cats Felis catus in an urban area
- 1As companion animals, domestic cats Felis catus can attain very high densities, and have the potential to exert detrimental effects on prey species. Yet, there is a paucity of information on the impact of cat predation in urban areas, where most cats are likely to be present.
- 2We quantified the minimum number of animals killed annually by cats in a 4.2-km2 area of Bristol, UK, by asking owners to record prey animals returned home by their pets. The potential impact of cat predation on prey species was estimated by comparing the number of animals killed with published estimates of prey density and annual productivity.
- 3Predator density was 229 cats/km2.
- 4Five mammal, 10 bird and one amphibian prey species were recorded. Mean predation rate was 21 prey/cat/annum. The most commonly recorded prey species was the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus.
- 5Predation on birds was greatest in spring and summer, and probably reflected the killing of juvenile individuals. For three prey species (house sparrow Passer domesticus, dunnock Prunella modularis, robin Erithacus rubecula), estimated predation rates were high relative to annual productivity, such that predation by cats may have created a dispersal sink for juveniles from more productive neighbouring areas. The impact of cats on these species therefore warrants further investigation.