Photo Galleries The Meowing Murderers among Us

The house cat -- that cute, furry feline beloved the world over -- is also one of the world's most destructive predators, killing for kicks and hunting rare species into extinction. Cats thrive because people protect them -- but should they?
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They might be soft...

Foto: MICHAEL CARONNA/ REUTERS
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...and cuddly...

Foto: AP/ mugumogu
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...and cute...

Foto: AP/ mugumogu
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...but they're killers, too.

Foto: Patrick Pleul/ picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb
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A team of biologists headed by Scott Loss of the renowned Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have analyzed all relevant studies on the issue and then extrapolated the numbers they found. The shocking result, published recently in the online journal Nature Communications, is that 84 million US house cats, along with more than 30 million stray cats, kill from 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the US each year.

Foto: AP/ Reno Gazette-Journal
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The house cat has long been listed among the 100 most dangerous invasive species. It originated in the Middle East, where, as an indoor hunter, it managed to endear itself to humans thousands of years ago. Once it enjoyed human protection, the cat expanded into every corner of the earth.

Foto: Sandy Bubar/ AP
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The results of the American study are "alarming" and "clearly applicable to Germany," says Axel Hirschfeld of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter in Bonn. He wants to use the new study to urge the German Animal Welfare Federation to conduct an educational campaign for cat owners.

Foto: Nikolas Giakoumidis/ ASSOCIATED PRESS
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There are at least 8 million house cats in Germany, and when they kill birds, their victims are usually blackbirds, sparrows, robins and great titmice. Cats rarely catch threatened species because they don't tend to populate suburban gardens, the original deployment zone of the feline faction.

Foto: AP/ mugumogu
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