Domestic cats have long been fingered as voracious hunters, causing dozens of native-mammal extinctions in Australia alone. But the purring predators bring with them another threat to the wild, according to research published by Britain’s Royal Society: the spread of disease. Scientists at the University of British Columbia in Canada said the prevalence of toxoplasmosis, which can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and cysts in wild animals, can be traced to the world’s estimated 600 million housecats, with the incidence of disease rising among wild animals in regions where pet cats are common.
The Norwegian Blue may only have been a fictional parrot species made famous by a Monty Python comedy sketch about a dead caged bird “pining for the fjords,” but real live pet parrots do, it seems, get the blues in captivity. That’s according to new research published by the Britain’s Royal Society, which suggests the bigger the captive bird’s brain, the more likely it is to exhibit “forms of abnormal behaviour,” such as chewing the bars of its cage or plucking its own feathers. The extent to which more intelligent parrot species are “prone to disease” and “apparently shortened lifespans” appears equivalent to the “mismatch” between captivity and life in the wild.