A portrait of a European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris), a subspecies of the wildcat which inhabits the forests and grasslands of Europe, as well as Turkey and the Caucasus Mountains; this specimen was photographed in Wisentgehege Springe game park, near Springe, Hanover, Germany. The species can be differentiated from the domestic cat by its bulkier body, thick fur, and non-tapered tail.
Australian Cats and Foxes May Not Deserve Their Bad Rep
by Gabriel Popkin
Foxes and feral cats are wildly unpopular among Australian conservationists. The two animals are infamous for killing off the continent’s native species, and they’ve been the targets of numerous government-backed eradication campaigns. But new research suggests that on Australian ISLANDS, these predators help control an even more destructive one: the black rat. As a result, eliminating cats and foxes could actually leave native mammals more vulnerable to predation, competition, and ultimately extinction.
Australia is ground zero for the modern biodiversity crisis. The continent has suffered more than a quarter of all recent mammal extinctions, and many other native species survive only as small populations on one or more of the country’s thousands of islands. While habitat destruction has caused some extinctions, cats, foxes, and rats introduced around 1800 by British sailors have also played a major role, decimating native animals like bilbies and bandicoots—both small, ratlike marsupials found only in Australia.
All of this has given large, nonnative predators like cats and foxes a bad name. “We hate them,” biologist Emily Hanna of the Australian National University in Canberra declared here last month at the International Congress for Conservation Biology…
Cats may try to hide their true feelings, but a recent study found that cats do actually pay attention to their owners, distinguishing them from all other people.
The study, which will be published in the July issue of Animal Cognition, is one of the few to examine the cat/human social dynamic from the feline’s perspective. Cats may not do what we tell them to, but they usually adore their human caretakers…
Mini Wildcats: The Pocket-Sized Predators of the African Cape
These miniature wildcats face the same dangers from habitat loss as their larger cousins.
by Joanna M. Foster
You don’t have to be a crazy cat lady—or man—to love leopards, get choked up over cheetahs or long to see a lion up-close. There’s something transformative about watching a big cat’s muscles ripple under its sleek, high-fashion coat, and even the cockiest modern man draped in technology is reminded of his proper place when a lion roars.
But there aren’t only three magnificent African cats, there are actually ten, although some weigh as little as three pounds and eat more insects than impalas.
Fortunately, for the four species of little cats that call South Africa home, the caracal, serval, african wild cat and black-footed cat, there’s the Cat Conservation Trust, a non-profit group that breeds cats in order to release them back into the wild…
Endangered primates and cats may be hiding out in swamps and mangrove forests
by Jeremy Hance
What happens to animals when their forest is cut down? If they can, they migrate to different forests. But in an age when forests are falling far and fast, many species may have to shift to entirely different environments. A new paper in Folia Primatologica theorizes that some 60 primate species and 20 wild cat species in Asia and Africa may be moving from rainforests to less-impacted environments such as swamp forests, mangroves, and peat forests.
“Where primates and felids face forest habitat disturbance, they may need to shift habitats, diets, activity patterns,” author of the paper Katarzyna Nowak with Princeton University told mongabay.com. “In areas with swamp forests—like areas with hard to reach mountaintops—these taxa can find safety and shelter in the flooded forest, which may be less disturbed than the adjacent upland forest.”…
Another Study Documents Dramatic New Impacts to Birds from Outdoor Cats
ABC media release
A new study from British scientists has documented for the first time, significant new impacts to birds from outdoor cats, reporting that even brief appearances of cats near avian nest sites leads to at least a doubling in lethal nest predation of eggs and young birds by third-party animals, as well as behavioral changes in parent birds that lead to an approximately 33 percent reduction in the amount of food brought to nestlings following a predation threat.
The study was peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology (January 30, 2013). The study was led by Karl Evans of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield in collaboration with his PhD student Colin Bonnington and Kevin Gaston of the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter.
The study was carried out by observing 47 blackbird nests in 2010 and 49 nests in 2011 in Sheffield, England, during the breeding season from March to August and compared nest dynamics following presentation of a taxidermist-prepared cat, a predatory grey squirrel, and a rabbit. The crucial finding is that the natural response of parenting birds to the appearance of predators – alarm calling and nest defense – dramatically affects rates of bird nest predation by third-party animals thusly alerted to the nest, as well as much lower feeding rates of young birds for prolonged periods following the threat of predation by cats…
Does Madame Fluff wreak havoc every time she attempts to scale a bookcase? Make things a bit easier for her — while staying organized — with the Cat-Library, a modular shelving system with a kitty staircase.