A global synthesis and assessment of free-ranging domestic cat diet

Christopher A. Lepczyk, Jean E. Fantle-Lepczyk, Kylee D. Dunham, Elsa Bonnaud, Jocelyn Lindner, Tim S. Doherty, John C.Z. Woinarski

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Abstract

Free-ranging cats (Felis catus) are globally distributed invasive carnivores that markedly impact biodiversity. Here, to evaluate the potential threat of cats, we develop a comprehensive global assessment of species consumed by cats. We identify 2,084 species eaten by cats, of which 347 (16.65%) are of conservation concern. Islands contain threefold more species of conservation concern eaten by cats than continents do. Birds, reptiles, and mammals constitute ~90% of species consumed, with insects and amphibians being less frequent. Approximately 9% of known birds, 6% of known mammals, and 4% of known reptile species are identified in cat diets. 97% of species consumed are <5 kg in adult body mass, though much larger species are also eaten. The species accumulation curves are not asymptotic, indicating that our estimates are conservative. Our results demonstrate that cats are extreme generalist predators, which is critical for understanding their impact on ecological systems and developing management solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7809
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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