9/28/2017 Staff Writer

Fondness for Felines Causes Catastrophe, Speaker Says

Peter Marra, author of “Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer,” told a Franklin & Marshall College audience on Sept. 28 that despite the title of his book, he loves cats. But he also said they are wrecking the ecosystem because they are predators of mammals, reptiles and, most significantly, birds.

“They are just doing what comes naturally to them,” Marra told the audience at Common Hour, a community discussion conducted each week classes are in session. “Should we let cats outdoors? To me, it’s just not responsible to let cats outside.”

Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, said in the United States alone, there are an estimated 90 million cats owned by people and 60 million cats who have no domesticated home. They are killing an estimated 1.3 to 4 billion birds a year, as well as 12.3 billion mammals and 478 million reptiles. These cat killings are contributing to some bird species’ extinction, he said.

The “Cat Wars” in the title of Marra’s book is about “the battle of people denying science,” he said. “If we don’t deal with it, we’re going to lose species left and right.”   

  • Smithsonian bird specialist Peter Marra said cats have contributed to the extinction of at least 63 species of reptiles, mammals and birds. Image Credit: Deb Grove
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