Tennessee songbirds and backyard birds are being killed in record numbers, and the culprit responsible might be the animal purring at your feet.
A brand new study released by the American Bird Conservancy reveals a shocking statistic - more than 3.5 billion birds are killed every year by cats.
In fact, the study shows that the average cat kills one animal every single day.
Bird watching in Tennessee is a huge pastime for many people, as the state boasts a wonderful array of songbirds, backyard birds and migratory birds.
This time of year, migrating robins make Middle Tennessee their home, but many of those birds are being gobbled up by cats.
"The studies that have been done show a cat kills a bird or a mammal about every 17 hours on average. So, you estimate that as 100 million cats that are free-roaming in North America, that's 100 million birds a day. You do the math. That's a lot of animals," said Scott Somershoe, state ornithologist at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Animal control in Nashville understands the problem but from a distance.
Metro Animal Control has almost no control over stray cats. The only time they are allowed to ever pick up a cat is if that cat has bitten a human. As far as strays roaming all over the city and in your backyard, they can't touch them.
"It's a big issue. I know from experience here in Davidson County there are a lot of cat colonies, even running loose downtown and in several other spots in the county. Unfortunately, in our line of work there's no law against cats running at large," said Billy Biggs, with Metro Animal Control.
Somershoe said there is one good way to keep beautiful birds and their songs in your neighborhood - make your cat a housecat.
"You don't see cats killing things very often. Some people see things left on their doorstep, but only about 25 percent of kills from housecats are actually brought back to the home," he said. "Most of the time you don't even know that it occurs, and you might think your kitty is being good when it's outside but it's not."
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