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The Washington cottontails

The next time you crack your backdoor to let your cat outside for its daily adventure, you may want to think again. For a cat, the outdoors is filled with undesirable potential. Like the risks of catching and transmitting diseases, and the uncontrollable drive to hunt and kill wildlife, which has been shown to reduce native animal populations and degrade biodiversity.

So starts a University of Maryland press release about this paper, which analyzes interactions between domestic cats and “eight native mammal species common in urban areas” in Washington D.C.

Now, if you ever stepped foot in D.C. you will notice that the most abundant mammals are neither cats, dogs, nor humans, but rats. But these District mascots do not make an appearance among the species analyzed, which were eastern chipmunk, eastern cottontail, eastern gray squirrel, groundhog, white-footed mouse, raccoon, red fox, and Virginia opossum.

Ah yes, the red fox. So very common in Washington D.C.

Look, I don’t doubt that domestic cats roaming around the suburbs are the scourge of bunny rabbits and chipmunks. But downtown D.C. has a bit of a rat problem and this study could have been a way to learn more about them.

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