Cats Felis catus as a threat to bats worldwide: a review of the evidence

Malik Oedin, Fabrice Brescia, Alexandre Millon, Brett P. Murphy, Pauline Palmas, John C.Z. Woinarski, Eric Vidal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


1. Cats Felis catus, in all their forms (domestic, free-roaming/stray and feral), have been identified as a major global threat to biodiversity, especially birds and small mammals. However, there has been little previous consideration of the extent and impact of predation of bats by cats, or of whether specific characteristics make certain species of bats particularly vulnerable to predation by cats. 

2. We reviewed the impact of cats on bats, based on a collation of scientific literature and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List database. Our aim was to produce a synthesis of the extent to which cats prey upon and threaten bats. We also collated available data on cat diet, which provide information on predation rates of bats by cats. 

3. Few studies (n = 44) have identified bat species preyed upon or threatened by cats, with a disproportionate number of studies from islands. In these studies, 86 bat species (about 7% of the global extant tally) are reported as preyed upon or threatened by cats, and about one quarter of these species are listed as Near Threatened or threatened (IUCN categories Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable). In IUCN Red List assessments, cats are more frequently mentioned as a threat to threatened or Near Threatened bat species than to non-threatened species (IUCN category Least Concern).  

4. In studies reporting on the incidence of bats in cat dietary samples (scats, stomachs and guts), the frequency of occurrence of bats in samples averaged 0.7 ± 2.1% (mean ± standard deviation; n = 102). Many studies had sample sizes that were too small to be likely to detect bats. 

5. All forms of cat are reported to kill bats, and such predation has been reported in all major terrestrial habitats. We conclude that predation by cats is an under-appreciated threat to the world’s bat species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-337
Number of pages15
JournalMammal Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MO received a PhD fellowship from the Southern Province of New Caledonia, with additional support from IAC and Northern Province of New Caledonia. Thanks to IUCN for the data made available, to ‘Anna’ of the Red List Unit for her help, and also to David Bruy and Alexandre Bourles for their help in brainstorming on statistics. Thanks to the Fondation François Sommer (FFS) for supporting a broader project on New Caledonian flying foxes and into which this review fits. The contributions of BM and JW were supported by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program (Threatened Species Recovery Hub).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Mammal Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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