The average Australian cat eats more fish per year than the average Australian.
Gourmet meals dished up to pampered pets could be threatening world fish supplies, Victorian scientists have warned.
Calculations by Deakin University researchers show an estimated 2.48 million tonnes of forage fish are used each year by the global cat food industry.
Leading this fishy business is the US, where more than 1.1 million tonnes of small forage fish, including sardines, herrings, and anchovies, go into cat food.
Across Europe, the figure is close to 870,000 tonnes, while almost 34,000 tonnes of the increasingly limited biological resource was imported into Australia each year to satisfy feline appetites.
Fish nutrition researcher Giovanni Turchini described the findings as "a real eye-opener". They reveal the extent to which fish suitable for human consumption goes into cat food.