Fri. Feb 26th, 2021

If you own a cat that roams outdoors, you’ve likely been the recipient of some grim gifts: a dead bird, decapitated mammal, ripped reptile, or even the odd, dismembered insect. While no one likes to find these gruesome offerings, many of the methods used to control cats’ hunting behaviors are controversial. But what if a change in diet and more quality time could curb the killing? A new study published in Current Biology reports that feeding cats a grain-free, high-meat-protein diet and engaging in five to 10 minutes of daily predatory-like object play reduced real predation by cats by up to 36% and 25%, respectively. Image from Cecchetti et al 2021. “Our study shows that — using entirely non-invasive, non-restrictive methods — owners can change what the cats themselves want to do,” Robbie McDonald, a professor from the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute in the U.K. and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “By playing with cats and changing their diets, owners can reduce their impact on wildlife without restricting their freedom.” The researchers recruited cat owners with cats that regularly hunted and brought their captures back to home to participate in the study. Participating cats were assigned one of the following treatments: wearing a collar with a bell or a Birdsbesafe collar cover; feeding the cats using a “puzzle” feeder; feeding commercial, grain-free food in which meat was the principal source of protein; engaging the cat in five to 10 minutes of object play; and…This article was originally published on Mongabay
Sourced from Conservation news