Cats vs. Rats: Study Shows Cats Cannot Control the Rat Populations in Big Cities

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We all know that cats catch rats or mice, but how effective are the feline against rats in the big cities? A study conducted in New York shows that cats are not really into catching the annoying rodents.

A team of scientists from the US and Australia microchipped a rat colony from an industrial waste recycling facility in Brooklyn. They also used cameras to see how efficient the feral cats were against the rats. The study captured 306 videos of cats and rats from December 2017 until May 2018.

Catching the Rats…

From the 306 videos, cats appeared in 259. However, cats stalked rats in just 20 videos and pursued the prey in just three instances. Only two ended with a successful kill.

Why didn’t the cats approach the mice? According to the study, the New York rats are Norway rats – huge furry creatures that reach a weight of 300 grams, unlike the small 150 grams rats (which cats regularly catch). Australia has small rats too, and cats prey heavily on the rat population. But the New York cats don’t want to mess with the giant fellows.

Moreover, researchers added that the two rats that fell prey were more likely small member of the colony. In their paper, they wrote:

“Cats prefer defenseless prey.”

And a bigger rat means a meal that would put up a heftier fight! So, the cats prefer a mouse, bird, lizard, cockroach and the best meal ever: food scraps from the garbage bins.

However, even though they didn’t chase the huge rats, where cats were around, the pests would avoid that area, added the researchers:

“Even though rats were less likely to be seen, they simply shifted their movements and remained present in the system. Our findings that cat presence led to fewer rat sightings may explain the common perception of their value as rat-predators despite the associated risks.”

Bottom line? City rats thrive and just live happily, just by “altering their movements, despite the presence of hunting cats.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere