The BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) is asking pet owners to keep their cats inside, after receiving 30 patients with cat wounds in the month of April.
Wallis Moore Reid, a spokesperson for Wild ARC, said it’s not unusual to receive at least one animal per day that has been affected by a cat. She says this time of year and into summer is especially bad for cat attacks because of all the baby animals that are being born.
Moore Reid says that because cats are not a natural predator for wildlife, it leaves small animals “innately vulnerable.”
Most of the birds, bunnies or reptiles brought to the centre due to cat attacks show up with lacerations or puncture marks from claws or teeth.
Wild ARC in Metchosin treats the animal through wound management and antibiotics.
At least 20 per cent of the birds admitted to Wild ARC are from cat attacks, says Moore Reid.
According to Brian Starzomsk, environmental studies professor at the University of Victoria, cats are one of the “greatest sources of mortality for songbirds across North American,” adding that cats probably kill “100s of millions” of birds per year across the continent.
“That number may well be higher, some studies have pegged the number in the billions,” he says. “They’re a predator that birds are naive to, and cats have great success killing.”
Wild ARC asks cat owners to keep them inside but if that’s not possible, suggests using a leash, a catio — an enclosed patio for your cat — or a cat bib, which will flip up into the cat’s face when they try to pounce on wildlife.
“If you’re concerned about songbirds, and your cats, keep them inside,” says Starzomsk.