Cats kill billions of animals a year and pose a huge threat to U.S. wildlife, a new study by researchers who are about to be trolled hard on Reddit claims.
The report comes on the heels of a petition to ban cats in New Zealand by one resident citing similar concerns. Just how lethal are our small feline friends?
The authors of the Nature Communications study estimate that cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.
Stray and feral cats are the worst offenders, but pet cats also played a role; researchers urge cat owners to do more to reduce their environmental impact.
The authors concluded that more animals are dying at the claws of cats in the United States than in road accidents, collisions with buildings or poisonings.
The domestic cat's killer instinct of has been well documented on many islands around the world; the global extinction of 33 species serves as proof.
Their impact on mainland areas has been harder to chart, but studies suggest they kill about more than four times as many birds as has been previously estimated.
Birds such as the American Robin were most at risk, and mice, shrews, voles, squirrels and rabbits were the mammals most likely to be killed.
The team said that "un-owned" cats, which they classified as strays, feral cats and farm cats, were killing about three times as many animals as pet cats.
However, scientists urge loving pet owners to keep cats indoors and to be aware of "the large magnitude of wildlife mortality caused by cat predation."
A properly fitted collar and bell will reduce a cat's success when hunting by at least a third, research shows, and spaying/neutering will also help control populations.
Cats: You a fan?