Cats are only so effective in helping control rat populations, according to a report published by researchers in the United States. The study’s findings are based on several months of observing via video cameras a rat colony in New York that was regularly visited by feral cats.
Within 79 days, only two rats were killed, according to the Fordham University researchers. This is despite the fact that up to three cats were in the immediate vicinity of the rat population, which consisted of 120 to 150 rodents, every day.
The study was published in the journal Frontiers In Ecology And Evolution and financed by the National Pest Management Association.
Zoologist Hermann Ansorge, who did not partake in the study, shares the study’s assessment. “If you want to use a cat to keep your home free of rats, you need to have one that is very willing to hunt,” Ansorge says.
Otherwise, cats will opt for easier prey, like mice or birds. According to the authors, certain conditions must be met for a cat to take on a large rat.
“The cat must be hungry, there cannot be a less-risky food source available and (the cat) must be able to surprise the rat,” co-author Michael Deutsch explains. Furthermore, Deutsch adds, mature rats may be too big for a cat. Younger, smaller rats are easier to hunt.
Ansorge also thinks that when it comes to rats, larger animals are often forgotten. “Certain dog breeds and terriers are good rat hunters,” he says. – dpa