I LOVE cats. They are playful, soft and cute. I especially like them rubbing on my feet and lying belly up asking to be petted. Cat lovers say this is a sign that they are relaxed and trusting. I have this love for cats since I was a teenager. As an adult, I’ve been injected with anti-rabies vaccine three times due to scratches from my own cats but I still love them.

Cats are probably not as loyal as dogs, but they are stress relievers. I read an article from Medical News Today (medicalnewstoday.com) that owning a cat could reduce your risk of a heart attack by nearly one third. The finding was the main result of a 10-year study of more than 4,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute in Minneapolis.

But don’t be deceived by their looks. Beneath the seemingly harmless nature of cats is a hunter and killer instinct. According to International Cat Care (icatcare.org), the domestic cat is a predatory species meaning that cats hunt for their food much like their wild ancestors. Cats are referred to as “obligate carnivores”. This means that cats need to eat meat to survive and fulfill their specific and unique nutritional requirements. The most common prey type for cats is small mammals and birds.

I have witnessed this cat hunting instinct a few times. While playing with them, they would stop and stay still when a bird lands on the ground. Slowly, they would creep towards the bird and jump on it. Sometimes I find dead birds at our door step (and mice too). Once I also saw my cat dragging a fruit bat.

Now why do they leave dead prey on the door step? I read an article which says that in the wild, cat mothers teach their young how to eat their food by bringing home dead or injured prey. But in this modern age, many female felines have no young to whom they need to pass on their hunting wisdom. By leaving a dead animal on the door step, the cat is acting out its natural role as mother and teacher.

This occasional hunting by domestic cats may be tolerable. But in Australia, wild cats predation is a big problem. According to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of Australia, feral cats threaten the survival of over 100 native species in Australia. They have caused the extinction of some ground-dwelling birds and small to medium-sized mammals. Feral cats are those that operate in the wild and can survive without human reliance or contact. They are the same species as domestic cats.

Feral cats in Australia thrive because they have no natural predator. They are not native to Australia. No large animal will check their population. There are suggestions to introduce Dingoes, a dog that is found in Australia to kill, or scare away cats. This was not considered. For now, the Australian Government has a target to cull two million feral cats by 2020 using humane methods.