There are lots of reasons for wild animals to die out, but this is an unusual one, more from News from the English Countryside, this from The Country Chronicle 1788:
A Whimsicall Bett, much the subject of conversation, has lately been made between the Duke of Bedford and Lord Barrymore. His Lordship bets the duke a certain sum that he will produce a man who shall eat a lie cat. The London papers have been hunting for precedents on this occasion. One of them relates that ‘for a wager of £50 a fellow who lived near the race-course of Kildare, in Ireland, devoured 5 fox cubs, and literally began eating each while alive. It is, however, to be observed that the devourer was a natural fool, having been born dear, dumb and without a palate”. another story is told that “a fellow, a shepherd at Beverley, in Yorkshire, about 11 years ago, for a bet of £5, was produced who was to devour a living cat. The one produced was a large black Tom Cat, which had not been fed for the purpose, but was chosen as being the largest in the neighbourhood. the day appointed was the Fair-Day at Beverley. The parties met. The man produced was a raw-boned fellow about 40. the cat was then given to him, on which he took hold of his 4 legs with one hand, and closing his mouth with the other, he killed him by biting his head to pieces immediately, and in less than a quarter of an hour devoured every part of the cat, tail, legs, claws, bones and everything. the man who laid the wager gave the fellow 2 guineas for doing it and the Shepherd appeared perfectly satisfied with the reward. After he had done it, he walked about the Fair the whole afternoon and appeared neither sick nor sorry. He took no emetic – nor had his repast any effect on him whatsoever.