Cats are causing 140 million deaths each year, and only some of their victims are furniture

Two researchers from Tilburg University have stated that cat owners who allow their precious kitty to roam free in the great outdoors are in contravention of the European nature protection laws.

Cats kill 140 million animals each year

In a paper published in the Journal of Environmental Law, Dutch researchers Arie Trouwborst and Han Somsen draw attention to the negative impact cats have on the environment, and argue that the Netherlands needs to toughen up when it comes to these fluffy murderers.

European guidelines state that countries are obliged to protect certain endangered species from predators like cats. Cats kill an estimated 140 million birds, rodents, bats, fish and reptiles each year in the Netherlands, and even though they’re highly discerning when it comes to their preferred brand of wet food, it seems cats don’t give a hoot whether the animal they’re playfully killing is endangered or not.

INNOCENT. Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied.

Dutch people own 2.6 million cats

Not all of the culprits are the sleepy housecat who is seemingly awake for one hour a day: one third of the victims are killed by wild domestic cats. But it does seem that our companions are more bloodthirsty than we might think: and even if their individual impact is fairly small, Dutch people own 2.6 million cats, so the overall effect is not to be denied. And the damage doesn’t end there- domestic cats also destroy any population of wild cats, by interbreeding with them and spreading diseases. Cats are the third most deadly invasive species worldwide.

Ollie experiencing existential dread at the idea that she might be problematic. Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied.

The solution: hunt the hunter?

So, what can we do about this? There have been several suggestions over the past year to introduce hunting as a way of curbing the population growth of feral domesticated cats. However, there are obvious problems: pets could easily be confused with the intended target, and few feel totally comfortable shooting a cat in any case.

Wildcats were shot in Utrecht last year, but this initiative was rolled back by Environmental Minister Carola Schouten, who stated that she aims to keep cat shooting at an absolute minimum. This was done partly n response to the Party for the Animals, who wanted cat shooting to be banned nationwide. Similarly, in Zeeland, cat hunting was supposed to take place this year, but after the public’s lack of support for the measure was made clear, it did not take place.

cats in the netherlands
Ollie’s solution if cat hunting ever becomes a thing: play dead. Image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied

How do you think we should look after our native species? Are cats destined to become purely indoor pets? Let us know in the comments below. 

Feature image: Abuzer van Leeuwen van Leeuwen/Supplied. 

Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.

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