The world of free-roaming house cat has been a mystery to humans until University of Georgia researcher Kerrie Anne Loyd outfitted cats with "kitty cams." She found out that behind the cute meows lie a secret world of slaughter:
Based on a U.S. house-cat population of 74 million, "cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American birds species are in decline," says George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy.
"The previous estimates were probably too conservative because they didn't include the animals that cats ate or left behind," University of Georgia researcher Kerrie Anne Loyd says.
The cats brought home just under a quarter of what they killed, ate 30% and left 49% to rot where they died.
The carnage cuts across species. Lizards, snakes and frogs made up 41% of the animals killed, Loyd and fellow researcher Sonia Hernandez found. Mammals such as chipmunks and voles were 25%, insects and worms 20% and birds 12%. The researchers will present their findings this week at an Ecological Society of America conference in Portland, Ore.