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What If All the Cats in the World Suddenly Died?

Perhaps you’re a cat lover. Perhaps you abhor the lazy critters. Either way, when you see a cat lounging on an armchair, napping all day but for the occasional stretch or window gaze, “useless” is by no means the last word that comes to mind. Cats, beloved or otherwise, don’t radiate the message that they’re indispensable, hard-working members of the household, or the world.

But, in fact, they’re just playing it cool (as usual). Experts say that if all the world’s cats suddenly died, things would quickly go to hell in a handbasket.

Cats, both pets and strays, may fool us into thinking that they depend on our food and trash for survival, but according to Alan Beck, professor of veterinary medicine and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, they’re expert predators with adaptablehunting behaviors. “They are a significant predator of small animals, and can survive as almost solitary animals when the prey is scarce, while thriving in high density when the prey is abundant,” Beck told Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.

And that’s just why we’d miss them. By killing mice and rats in barns and grain storage areas, cats are vital for keeping those pests in check. In India, Beck said, cats are believed to play a significant role in lessening the amount of grain loss caused by consumption or contamination by rodents. In other words, it may be true that humans feed cats, but without cats, humans would have less food in the first place.

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