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Does your cat continue to kill wildlife? Here’s how you can change that

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Cats that eat meat-based food are less likely to hunt animals, such as rodents or birds. (Rawpixel photo)

This morning, your cat hit again.

What a “beautiful” surprise to wake up to when you have not yet drunk your coffee, there it is, a dead rat on your doorstep.

Cat owners are familiar with this problem. According to reports, “millions of domestic cats kill billions of creatures a year.”

Published in the journal Current Biology, the study examined the reasons why our furry friends are predators once they stick their noses out.

And that can confuse cat owners, especially since these pets eat as much as they want, as we feed them regularly.

In order to understand what drives cats to kill animals and then bring the lifeless bodies of their prey as trophies to their people, the authors of this work conducted several experiments with more than 300 females (who were accustomed to all for hunting).

The researchers played with the animals, including a feather object hanging from a rope and a stick so that cats could jump, chase and jump, just as they do when hunting creatures.

After five to 10 minutes of play, the number of dead animals left by the cat in front of their owner’s door was reduced by one third.

Since cats like the thrill of hunting, researchers undertook experiments to see if they could address some of the animals’ needs or desires before the cats decided to go hunting.

One of the recommendations is that “people who own a cat play more with it, for example with a fake mouse. “Our study shows that – using completely non-invasive, non-restrictive methods – owners can change what cats themselves want to do,” said Professor Robbie McDonald of the University of Exeter in England, who led the study.

However, liveliness is not the only factor that can play a role if cats attack small animals. According to research, eating meat diets can also reduce the hunting of mammals and birds.

The fact that cats are less likely to kill if fed animal protein may be explained by the specific amino acid content found in meat, the researchers speculate.

“Some cat foods contain protein from plant sources such as soy, and it is possible that despite forming a ‘complete diet’, these foods leave some cats deficient in one or more micronutrients – pushing them to hunt.” suggested Martina Cecchetti, PhD student at the University of Exeter and co-author of the study.

Could it be a cell-based meat solution?

However, this poses an obvious problem from an environmental point of view, if to reduce the killing of wild animals, we should advise pet owners to feed their cats more meat.

The next step for these researchers will be to investigate whether there are any micronutrients that can be added to cat food, for example, that will reduce the desire to hunt without so much meat.

The arrival of meat created in the lab could possibly fix the problem.

While this method is increasingly being developed as an alternative to animal meat production for human consumption and slaughter, this idea has also begun to make its way into the pet food industry.

This includes Shannon Falconer and Joshua Errett, founders of the US-based company Because Animals, a pioneer in cell meat farming for pets.

The company is currently working on animal feed made from mouse cells, obtained humanely from a rodent skin biopsy. The founders of “Because Animal” hope to commercialize their product by 2021.

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