Your pet cat may not be as cute and cuddly as you might think. According to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, domestic cats kill billions of birds, mice and small animals in the U.S. each year.
Biologists estimated that cats are responsible for the deaths of as many as 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion smaller animals, including mice, voles and chipmunks, the Agence France-Presse reported. The study also concludes that cats are likely the No. 1 killer of birds and small mammals in the country.
Led by Scott Loss of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the study drew from past research on the predatory habits of cats. While previous studies have suggested cats are responsible for billions of small creature deaths, the most recent estimates are significantly higher.