Cats in New York City are an invasive species that are a plague to the animal kingdom. It is well documented that these bloodthirsty psychopaths are responsible for the murder of billions of innocent and helpless creatures a year. They devastate ecosystems and ruin the lives of many animals that are simply trying to survive, hunting many to the brink of extinction. Despite knowing this, the human community has done nothing to help. They, through ignorance or indifference, ignore the reality of the plight of animals, sympathizing with these monsters due to their cuteness.

The critters in the city (pigeons, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, etc) have finally banded together and decided that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! For too long, they have sat back and waited for humans to curb the feline population, while suffering the loss of their loved ones and friends. Rather than compete with each other for resources such as food and shelter, they have realized that they have a mutual interest in standing against a common enemy. This "rodent mafia" have agreed in animal terms to cooperate and come to the defense of each other through a mutual-species agreement, as well as to take down their hated enemies whenever and wherever possible.

Communication is defined as the transmission of information. Every species has its own species-specific body, vocal language and odours in which they use to "talk" with others of their kind. Inter-species communication is rare. Assuming they were intelligent enough, what natural mechanism can different species of prey animals develop the ability to communicate with each other in order to organize against a super-predator?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Interspecies communication is, in fact, fantastically common. Scent-marking, warning colouration, warning cries. All almost ubiquitous in the animal kingdom, and frequently interpreted by animals of many different species. I suspect what you are after is interspecies co-ordination. $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2019 at 15:47
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ My dog and I communicate rather high level concepts all the time: "I want to go for another walk!" or "You should refresh my water!" or "Everyone in the pack should be upstairs now!" The problem is that what he wants right now is not the same as abstract thinking - we grok the concept of a permanent class of enemy; he understands only dangerous predator right now. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 22, 2019 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Please be sure you close your sandbox question according to the rules. Cheers! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 22, 2019 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ For a rat or a squirrels, if they could get their hands on a bird, they would kill an eat it just as a cat would. Unfortunately, each species has their own priorities and care about their own survival over the survival of the community as a whole. Rats have the highest chance in forming defensive postures towards predators. $\endgroup$
    – Sonvar
    Mar 29, 2019 at 22:51

8 Answers 8


Animals might never think to even begin such an endeavor on their own... but maybe it all starts with some guy who owned both a pet dog and a crow, and taught them to work together to collect coins off the street. The crow brings a coin to the house, and the dog rewards the crow with some kind of bird-snack which is accessible only to the dog by virtue of its greater strength, in addition to protecting the crow from predators. Dogs are remarkably capable of real affection, and tend to learn new ways to demonstrate affection according to what happens in their perceived "family". Perhaps the nature of this dog/bird/human relationship leads the dog to believe that presenting food is an affectionate action.

Crows have a wonderful ability to learn from one another. In some time, multiple birds take advantage of this dog for defense and seed whenever it is nearby. Eventually, the owner of these animals dies and stops feeding the dog, and the dog is a stray now, but feeding birds is a well-ingrained habit of his and that is the key to proliferating these dependencies to the rest of the animal kingdom. After a few days of mourning, a crow might discover that coins no longer elicit the same response, but sort of accidentally find that dog food (or other dog-edible scraps) does elicit a positive response from the dog.

This action is transferable to other stray dogs. So, seeing other stray dogs, the birds attempt to perform similar activities with them, provoking a wide variety of responses, but generally positive ones since they are indeed offering food, and dogs generally respond positively to food. In a relatively short time, if the first dog was very disciplined and the behavior goes viral among birds, the dogs come to almost completely rely on birds for their food offerings, and birds rely on the exchange for the way that it attracts bugs to eat.

These scraps attract cockroaches, which feed the birds, and the birds still get their end of the bargain. Other birds catch on, and after a while, birds are feeding/protecting the dogs, and the dogs are feeding/protecting the birds.

This is all pretty far-fetched, but given an infinite set of possible universes, it's not impossible for this kind of ecosystem to develop. With a little imagination, you can probably extrapolate this to other species which live in NYC. For example, the symbiotic relationship inadvertently benefits mice, who pick up the scraps from these common encounters. Large groups of mice come to depend on the bird-dog relationship for crumbs to eat.

Many creatures have tendencies to be protective over things which they consider to be their primary source of food; so if the cats eat the birds and mice, and the cockroaches feed the birds, and the birds feed the dogs, and the dogs feed the mice, and that attracts cockroaches, then the cats are threatening several species at once, and each species might respond for its own interests. Some semblance of cooperation would just be a happy side-effect of the process.


Essentially you are describing the sort of ecosystem with an apex predator, such as a savanna with lions, shoreline with great white sharks cruising offshore or a late Cretaceous ecosystem with a flock of T-Rex lurking in the forest.

The various species which live in these ecosystems have not consciously evolved to cooperate, but have nevertheless evolved various mechanisms to cope with the apex predator, including evolving defensive armour and weapons like horns and thick skin, aggressive behaviours towards other creatures, herd, school or flocking behaviours which protect the largest numbers of members of the species at the sacrifice of a few on the outer edges and a high degree of awareness of the local environment, including the movements and behaviors of complimentary species. If the antelope or hadrosaurids are moving nervously, in very short order all the animals become spooked and ready for flight.

So these evolutionary adaptions already exist, and can be harnessed by animals. In the city, they would be amplified by the complexity of the environment (which is broken up by buildings, vehicular traffic and other human artifacts), and the unnaturally high predator to prey ratio.

While it seems unlikely that creatures will evolve horns or razor sharp claws in the near future (sabre tooth squirrels?), animals will evolve towards much enhanced sensory perception to detect predatory cats and changes in the environments cats can be found (perhaps animals become attuned to the behaviours of "cat ladies", since they are much easier to sense and observe than the cats themselves). Watching for changes in warning behaviours, the ability to exploit the human environment more aggressively to avoid cats (particularly moving in three dimensions among buildings), highly amplified herding and flocking behaviours and other metabolic adaptations such as the ability to eat and digest food, especially human food more quickly to reduce the amount of time spent foraging and eating where they are vulnerable to cats.

Some of thee evolutionary adaptations already seem to be taking place. Animals like urban raccoons exhibit far more complex behaviours than their forest counterparts, and I would suggest that if decent studies were undertaken of urban animal behaviours, you wold actually see this among almost all urban animals.

Of course, cats will be evolving in parallel...

  • $\begingroup$ They will evolve.... assuming they don't go extinct! $\endgroup$
    – cegfault
    Mar 28, 2019 at 13:32

If the animals have developed sufficient intelligence to make battle plans and consciously organize themselves in a multi-species effort to eradicate the cats, they probably also have the reasoning skills to become tool-users. In which case you would find your rats, mice, squirrels etc., which have dexterous little hands, building and utilizing primitive traps and weapons using the natural resources available to them. They would use hit and run and ambush tactics to catch single cats off guard or lure a lone cat into a trap, at which point they would swarm the hapless (and possibly trapped) cat in great numbers with their little weapons and finish it off. They would use all the same tactics small revolutionary forces have always used against larger, better equipped foes. Of course, if the cats have also developed to this level of intelligence, they may quickly realize what's going on and get organized themselves, in which case your prey alliance may be in trouble.

As for the communication issue, they obviously were able to communicate sufficiently to create this agreement and alliance against cats; strategy meetings will probably involve those same animals who managed to communicate well enough to make this agreement in the first place. "Troops" in the field, if they have trouble understanding one another's natural languages, will likely develop an organized series of body language and simple phrase lingo to help them efficiently communicate in battle situations. It would be a bit sticky at first, but eventually every little team of attack-prey (that hadn't gotten themselves killed) would be working like a well oiled machine with whatever system they had come up with through trial and error. For inspiration, look at how humans adapt and communicate in situations where they don't speak one another's language. Over time, you pick up phrases or attitudes (or smells, in this case, I suppose) from each other's language, and you work out some common gestures, etc. to say what you mean.


This is already happening, although not quite to the extent that you're describing. I've personally seen plenty of barn cats get screwed out of a meal because a nosy crow warned off the squirrel or whatever that was the intended target, and although I haven't seen it PERSONALLY, I've seen plenty of occasions narrated by David Attenboro where the same thing happened to larger predators. Usually it's birds acting as the lookouts, but not always. Meerkats for example are extremely vigilant and when they warn their own clan that a hawk or something is coming, all the OTHER prey species within earshot get the warning too.

Now, if what you're talking about is a multi-species variation of sparrows ganging up on a hawk, I don't think anything like that would evolve naturally just due to the biological imperatives of species preservation. Animals only cooperate in very structured ways, and never in ways that involve taking risk for the benefit of another species. Even HUMAN BEINGS don't do a very good job of cooperating with each other outside of their own Tribe.

I mean, pretend the squirrels are Liberals and the pigeons are Conservatives and the cats are, I dunno, Russian Hackers. Or Brexit. Whatever. There are a few million years of Darwinian evolution incentivizing only helping others when it doesn't cost you anything.

  • $\begingroup$ Good idea. Even though the species mentioned presently do not care about the community well being per se, but if they learn to tolerate each others presence, then they can learn that if a pigeon suddenly flies away or a rat quickly scurries away, that the others may want to take heed. $\endgroup$
    – Sonvar
    Mar 29, 2019 at 23:02

The pidgeons would act as scouts spotting cats from the air. They would then alert chipmunks and squirrels who could set up ambushes and descend from above in hit and run tactics. Rats are large, strong, and have a lot of natural defenses, they could act as shock troops.


Squirrels, Chipmunks, mice, and Rats probably could have a common language origin, like Romance Languages (Italian, Spanish, French, English by French loan words), Germanic Languages (German, Dutch, English), Sinosphere Languages (Chinese including Mandarin and Cantonese, Japanese) ect.

It's possible that a Squirrel, mouse, rat, and chipmunk could have a common Rodentia Root Language, such that they can pick up on each other's languages (this isn't far-fetched, as No means the same thing in English as it does in most romance languages and written Chinese and Japanese use enough of the same characters that a Chinese speaker and Japanese speaker can read the other's newspaper and get the gist of the articles). Perhaps when translated, the Rodent languages correspond to accents... Maybe Mouse sounds British, Rat Sounds American, Squirrel sounds French and Chipmunk sounds Italian.

Since Pigeons aren't capable of making the same sounds as these animals, it could be that the Pigeon character is your Chewbacca... they coo, and presumably the cooing symbolizes some ideas, but it's never explained to the reader... ala C-3P0 translating R2-D2's beeps or Rocket Racoon understanding Groot.


Rodent transmitted diseases and bird intelligence

Rodents as disease vectors

Rats and rodents are known for transmitting a bunch of serious diseases to humans and cats, including hanta (this is no problem for cats, but lethal for humans), toxoplasmosis (produces schizophrenia in humans), plague and rabies. There is a common strain of toxoplasmosis that apparently makes mice lose fear of cats permanently. You only need to figure out how to spread toxoplasmosis and rabies throughout parks and sewages in NYC and you'll get an army of fearless rodents armed with nasty diseases.

Bird intelligence

It is well-known that birds transmit lots of complex information through their songs and calls. For example, there are specific calls to announce the presence of a specific predator like a hawk or owl. Morever, some aspects of bird intelligence make them comparable not only to monkeys but also to apes and human children.

Ravens and crows are something special, so you really need them to lead the whole operation. They are social birds, but their intelligence is not limited to bird-bird interaction: they are able to recognize human faces, solve puzzles, use tools, store food for the future, play for fun, make deals with reliable people, and very importantly, scold those who they regard as enemies. Check out these links on crows, ravens and other birds [1] [2] [3] [4].

Finally, certain birds in Africa are intelligent enough to communicate with humans!!, and lead them towards honey. So maybe a bit of human help from some cat-hater (lost a child to schizophrenia produced by toxoplasmosis) could also play have a role.

With a bit of licentia poetica, lets say a group of cats killed the offspring of NYC's alpha raven who decided to take revenge. Crows and ravens have watched fearless rats attacking cats in the past, so they figure out that they can manipulate or guide rodents (food exchange, for example) towards those cats that were involved in the crime. Things get out of control when other rodents realize they can take revenge from their feline enemies if they attack in group.


Natural selection is your answer

Do different species work together to evade predators? Not that I know of, so different species working together to kill predators is even more unlikely. However, I can see how it could occur, though it is extremely unlikely.

It all starts here...

There are three fundamental evolutionary strategies animals use to survive predators: Evasion, Defense, and Offense.

Evasion is defined by an animal evolving to evade its predator. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

  1. Speed and agility-Various prey animals have developed incredible speed and agility to outrun and outmaneuver predators. Examples include deer and gazelle. This strategy will not be selected for unless those below fail.

  2. Enhanced senses-This strategy entails prey detecting predators before the predator detects them, or else detecting predators at the same time the predator senses them, and acting accordingly (read: hightailing it) to avoid being eaten. This will not work if the predator is capable of tracking down the prey, or else outrunning it upon detection.

  3. Camouflage-If a predator cannot detect a prey animal, how will it catch and eat said prey?

However, if the predator cannot be evaded effectively, there are other options...

Defense is defined as developing greater defenses, potentially making the prey inedible to its predator. This includes:

  1. Poison-This is exemplified by poison dart frogs. By producing or storing poison in one's body, a prey animal will cause predators to either evolve to A) not eat their now poisonous prey or B) be immune to or protected from their prey's poison.

  2. Armor-This is exemplified by turtles and armadillos. If a prey animal develops good enough armor to protect themselves from their predator's weaponry, then the predator will not be able to kill and/or eat them.

  3. Texture-Hedgehogs, porcupines, and so forth demonstrate this. Spikes, slime, and even the ability to bloat on demand enhance prey survival and diminish a predator's chances of eating said prey.

Offense is defined by prey evolving to attack and kill predators. This is an aggressive and risky strategy, and is probably the most unlikely of all the others. This is where you get what you're looking for.

For whatever reason, Evasion and Defense have either failed or aren't effective enough, so what happens? Well, when all else fails, the prey that survives is the prey that effectively fights back.

Also, these prey animals, no matter their species, will automatically be at a disadvantage if they fight each other rather than cats, because that entails more risk and therefore more death. In other words, I can see these animals (through natural selection and/or whatever common sense they possess) avoiding conflict with each other.

Over time, these animals will grow to tolerate each other, even choosing different food sources (or else sharing the same food sources) to eliminate chances for conflict. Then, when cats show up, what will happen? These animals have overlapping territory, yes? The cat will attack and eat whatever it can get, yes?

So, maybe, just maybe, you have a squirrel and a chipmunk, or any other pair of NYC prey animals, and a cat attacks one of them. Due to innate aggression, or perhaps due to committing to a preemptive strike, the other animal attacks the preoccupied cat and kills it. Eventually, because this enhances both species chances of survival, the cat's prey eventually evolve to cooperate to fight against their common enemy.

Is this likely? No, as I said before. But, these animals likely have different preferences. They already live alongside each other. And given the right conditions, natural selection can and will bring about this kind of situation simply because every fight won this way means another day of life, and one less cat to threaten the species. So, I hope you'll be gladdened to know it could happen!


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .