Social, Feeding and Predatory Behaviour 55
conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts, which is understandable because domestic
cats can be efficacious predators of small mammals, birds and reptiles and are
reported to have been at least partly responsible for the extinction of several endan-
gered species, and may pose a serious threat to many more (Medina et al., 2011;
Thomas et al., 2012).There is, however, some debate as to whether cats are sometimes
given disproportionate blame for changes in wildlife populations and that other fac-
tors, such as habitat disruption and predation by wild animals, are sometimes disre-
garded or overlooked (Bradshaw, 2013).
The impact that cats have on wildlife populations can depend greatly on the
environment. Unique and isolated fauna on small islands can be at most risk from
introduced cats and the eradication of feral cats from some islands has resulted in the
dramatic recovery in the populations of previously threatened species (Cooper et al.,
1995). However, cats can also help to effectively control the population of rats and
other introduced species that can pose a threat to wildlife or their habitat. In some
instances, the eradication of cats has put endangered species at greater rather than
reduced risk (Karl and Best, 1982; Dickman, 2009). For example, on one Pacific
island the removal of cats resulted in a dramatic increase in the rabbit population,
resulting in severe damage to the environment and devastating consequences for the
indigenous wildlife and nesting seabirds (Bergstrom et al., 2009).
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