The long and short of it is yes. Cats are the worst kind of killers – serial killers. They kill over and over and usually with the same M.O. According to a report put together by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service, it was estimated that cats in the United States (both domestic and feral) kill 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year.

Don’t feel too bad if you have a pet kitty cat at home. He is not responsible for the bulk of ravenous murders on local birds and mammals. No, your domestic kitty is only guilty of killing 29 percent of the birds and 11 percent of the mammals. It’s those pesky feral cats that really bringing the wildlife population to its knees.

Apparently there are packs of wild cats roaming the streets of America viciously killing any small creature in their wake. I imagine them much like the Sharks and the Jets in West Side Story. One beautiful young calico falls in love with a tabby from a rival cat pack and before you know it the streets are filled with cat dance fights, paw snapping and love songs. This sadly ends with the calico’s brother and her sweet tabby lover dying in a vicious cat fight.

So, the next time you are walking or jogging along one of Missoula’s many trails, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up because you think you’re being followed, you probably are. A feral cat could be watching you from behind a bush or maybe even eyeing you from the top of a tree. Beware cats are everywhere and they are always looking for their next prey.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of The University of Montana, animal lover and writer.

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