Cat lovers in the U.S. own about 90 million cats, bringing much joy to tens of millions of families. There are also, however, an estimated 60-90 million unowned free-ranging cats in the U.S., cats which may be hit by vehicles, preyed upon by other animals, and can contract – and spread – a variety of diseases.

Global impacts of cat predation are documented: a minimum of 33 extinctions and a decline of at least 142 species of birds, reptiles, and mammals; mortality of an estimated average of 2.4 billion birds (~69% from unowned cats), 12.3 billion mammals, and hundreds of millions of reptiles and amphibians. Cats also can pose a threat to public health from potential transmission of diseases, most significantly Toxoplasmosis.

A recent environmental Professionals Network breakfast presentation addressed issues surrounding cats and their effects on wildlife and human health. The speaker, Dr Peter Marra, Director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, was introduced by Columbus Audubon board member Sheila Fagan. You can watch a video of the presentation on the EPN Web site.