Study provides data on feral cats on Mauna Kea

October 15th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Research News  |  4 Comments

feral cat

photo by Heidi Hansen

Feral cats have inhabited Hawaiian forests since soon after their introduction in the late 1700s, contributing to the decline and extinction of native birds. Effective control strategies require data on population dynamics, but little is known about the cats’ annual or lifetime survival rates.

Researchers associated with UH’s Hawaiʻi Cooperative Studies Unit, state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey trapped cats at two woodland sites on the west and north slopes of Mauna Kea designated as critical habitats for the endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper.

Analyzing teeth to determine age distribution, they calculated an average annual survival rate of 0.647 for cats age 1 or older. Nearly 15 percent of females were pregnant; 37 percent had antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii and 7 percent were infected with the parasite.

Writing in the July issue of Pacific Science, the scientists note that a long-lived cat is capable of substantial predation over its lifetime; has a greater chance of transmitting the parasite, which can kill native species; and can contribute to rapid population rebound after control efforts.

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  1. Dar says:

    November 17th, 2010at 9:37 am(#)

    We all have the right to survive, birds and cats.

  2. ben says:

    November 18th, 2010at 7:53 am(#)

    The biggest contributer of the decline of native bird species is man… encroachment, loss of territory, … and actually other birds do more harm than cats!!
    but humans can do no wrong, so we have to blame something else…
    how about blame another victim! Cats! These cats dont choose to live where they do… they are forced into doing what they must to just survive, put into these situations because of man…
    Stop blaming and hurting victims and start finding a way to help all!

  3. Neol Caveny says:

    November 18th, 2010at 11:00 am(#)

    Does this means that the DLNR and USGS are now going to divert their already over-stretched resources to wage all-out war on the feral cats on Mauna Kea? A TNR (trap/neuter/release) program has been shown to be much more effective than attempted eradication, which never works. Someone already took the time to trap these cats (and hopefully neuter them, unless they were just murdered after being examined) – just keep going.

  4. Elepaio says:

    January 14th, 2011at 2:54 pm(#)

    Cats are predators, they aren’t going to stop hunting if they are neutered! AND what about our native forests and birds? Is it not MORE cruel to watch a species go extinct when you could’ve done something about it? (I don’t think cats will go extinct anytime soon) YES the biggest contributor to native species decline is man, we introduced cats so we should do something about our mistakes. And while the poor innocent kitties didn’t ask to be put in the forests neither did the native birdies ask for the kitties! Come on People, what about our fragile native ecosystems?