Why aren't cats fierce and dangerous like lions, tigers or other big cats?
Domestic cats are among the most deadly and effective predators on earth. There are several species of mammals and birds that have been wiped out, or driven to the brink of extinction, because a handful of pet cats escaped into their ecosystem. Mortality from housecat attacks in the UK is estimated at two million small animals a year.
The primary trait that makes them so murderous—aside from the fact that they're just good at killing—is that they enjoy it. They kill for fun, whether they need food or not. That is true of very, very few other species. There is an excellent sequence in the TV special Living with Tigers, chronicling the education of a pair of Bengal tigers transported to an African preserve. The day they figured out how to stalk and kill effectively, they went on a murder spree and killed every animal in sight. For the sheer joy of bloodshed.
Predators focus on prey with the size and defenses that they can handle. Domestic cats are small animals, so their prey is small. Don't let that fool you into thinking they are not one of the fiercest and deadliest predators on this planet. In no small part that is because we bred them for wanton killing, by using them for vermin control.
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