Research Library

Feeding free-roaming cats reduces presumed interest in hunting wildlife


“Influence of Care of Domestic Carnivores on Their Predation on Vertebrates,” published in Conservation Biology, 2011. Abstract available online here.


This study [1] presents the results of research in southern Chile examining the effect of regular feeding on the hunting behavior of cats and dogs.

Key points

Using data obtained from owner surveys and scat analysis in two southern Chile communities, the study’s authors concluded that “underfed” cats are nearly five times as likely to prey on wildlife (compared to adequately fed cats).

Study authors concluded that 'underfed' cats were nearly five times as likely to prey on wildlife.

The outdoor cats studied were all free-roaming pets, suggesting that these findings can likely be applied to “community cats” in the U.S. Such cats often take advantage of available anthropogenic (i.e., human-provided) food sources [2–6].

See related Issue Brief: Wildlife impacts of free-roaming cats: Estimates vs. evidence


  1. Silva-Rodríguez, E.A.; Sieving, K.E. Influence of Care of Domestic Carnivores on Their Predation on Vertebrates. Conservation Biology 2012, 25, 808–815.

  2. Levy, J.K.; Woods, J.E.; Turick, S.L.; Etheridge, D.L. Number of unowned free-roaming cats in a college community in the southern United States and characteristics of community residents who feed them. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2003, 223, 202–205.

  3. Lord, L.K. Attitudes toward and perceptions of free-roaming cats among individuals living in Ohio. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2008, 232, 1159–1167.

  4. Levy, J.K.; Isaza, N.M.; Scott, K.C. Effect of high-impact targeted trap-neuter-return and adoption of community cats on cat intake to a shelter. The Veterinary Journal 2014, 201, 269–274.

  5. APPA 2015–2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey; American Pet Products Association: Stamford, CT, 2017.

  6. Cove, M.V.; Gardner, B.; Simons, T.R.; Kays, R.; O’Connell, A.F. Free-ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) on public lands: estimating density, activity, and diet in the Florida Keys. Biological Invasions 2018, 20, 333–344.

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