How many cats are too many

Do we have too many cats in Germany?

Cats hunt birds, amphibians, and insects

But what is "too much"? This is where the problem begins: Because cats, unlike dogs, do not have to be reported, there are only estimates that vary between eight and 13 million animals. For free-range domestic cats, hunting is just an instinct-driven pastime, because they get their food from the owner.

But for the two million feral domestic cats - according to the German Animal Welfare Association, that is how many live in Germany - the hunt for birds, small rodents and amphibians is not just a pastime, but vital as a food supply. And therefore threatening to nature.

Cats only harm a few species of birds

Achim Kemper, ornithologist at the Naturschutzbund Köln, says: Cats can be a limiting factor that has a lasting effect on the populations of some bird species. "In Germany, however, this only affects a few bird species, especially dunnock, blackbird, skylark, house sparrow and wren. And these are common, so-called commonplace species that you don't have to worry about anywhere in Germany", he explains. But other ornithologists, including prominent ones, are far more critical.

Frogs, lizards, snakes and insects are also threatened

The long-time head of the ornithological station at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, the retired scientist Peter Bertold, considers the high number of cats threatening. Cats are responsible for the extinction of 33 bird species. And not only birds are threatened, but also frogs, lizards, snakes and insects. Against this background, the question arises why conservationists fought so vehemently for the shooting ban on poaching dogs and cats in the new, heavily controversial North Rhine-Westphalia hunting law.

German Animal Welfare Association demands castration duty

The German Animal Welfare Association demands castration for outdoor cats from private households. The German Hunting Association also joins this. Bird conservationists demand that cat owners do not let their pets outside during the breeding season, but instead lock them up for a few weeks.

Science editor Jörg Albrecht's demand to regulate the number of domestic cats in Germany with the help of a cat tax has not yet been adopted by any nature conservation organization.