While walking around my neighborhood in Hauppauge on a recent morning, I counted no fewer than six pet cats free to roam and hunt. Cat owners need to know the damage that their pets are doing to wildlife.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, domestic cats let out to roam kill 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion birds a year in the United States, and 6.9 billion to 20.7 billion small mammals.

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Experts also tell us that cats are the single biggest reason for the demise of ground-feeding birds like bobwhite quail, a species that has largely disappeared from Long Island. The irony is that these birds eat ticks. Cat owners must keep their pets indoors or on a leash.

Christopher Duffner, Hauppauge