ENGLAND – The days of the family pet cat dragging the bloodied carcass of its prey into the home may be numbered, according to a leading veterinary scientist.
Feline behavior expert Dr John Bradshaw believes domestic cats could become genetically engineered to remove their hunting instinct, as modern owners become increasingly horrified by the primitive habit.
The Bristol University academic stated the domestic cat’s propensity to hunt is probably determined by only 15 or 20 genes, which means that, once identified, these could be edited to yield more emollient animals.
“The distaste we have towards blood and flesh and death – most people don’t like it,” he said to the Cheltenham Science Festival.
“If people become more offended by cats bringing prey into their home then fewer people will want to have cats.
“Cats are such fascinating animals so that would be a pity.”
Dr Bradshaw went on to explain that despite catching and killing wildlife, such as small birds and marsupials, cats often decline to eat their prey because they prefer the taste of the cat food provided by their owner.
He argued that cats should be prevented and stopped from taking wild prey that they did not need to survive, but that the pets were also often unfairly scapegoated.
“People who don’t like cats are always going to blame them,” he stated.
“So to make that go away, we need to do something about it.”
“We need to select cats that don’t hunt.”
The author of Cat Sense believes it is common to find two almost identical cats where one naturally sought after prey and the other did not hunt at all, which suggests the difference was determined by genetic variation.
With the entire cat genome already sequenced, he argued that it may be possible to identify and alter the responsible genes.
“I think it would be a commercial product,” stated Dr Bradshaw.
“You have then taken away a bit of the catness of the cat, but I think that’s unavoidable.
“We need to reserve those hunting territories for wild predators because they have nowhere else to go, whereas our cats have full nutrition.”
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