I love all animals and I am involved with rescue of many types of pets and wildlife.  But, I do not beolieve that cats should be treated as wild animals and be allowed to roam.

Taking Aim at Outdoor Cats

Assemble a group of bird lovers and cat lovers in a room, and it's a sure bet feathers will likely fly (pun intended).
There are few nature-related subjects that elicit more response and prompt more passionate emotion than the debate about free-roaming and feral cats and their impact on U.S. songbird-and game bird-populations.
These days, when a writer accurately reports that millions of birds are killed annually by outdoor cats, more often than not cat supporters by the hundreds immediately rally to the defense of pet cats allowed to run freely, in addition to those abandoned or homeless (feral) cats that live outdoors year 'round.
Until recently, few organizations or individuals dared to condemn the well-meaning but misdirected Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) programs implemented by some cities and municipalities that capture feral cats, then turn them loose again after inoculation and sterilization.
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is one of the few conservation groups that fully grasps the irrationality of TNR programs and hasn't been afraid to say it. The organization produces videos, fact sheets and launched a Keep Your Cat Indoors campaign back in 1997.
In December 2009, a superior court judge ruled in favor of a coalition of conservation groups, including ABC, to halt the practice of TNR of feral cats in the City of Los Angeles, pending environmental review.
A 2010 peer-reviewed University of Nebraska-Lincoln report, Feral Cats and Their Management, put the annual economic loss from feral cat predation on birds in the U.S. at $17 billion.
In a column last spring, Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette outdoors columnist Mark Blazis didn't pull any punches. While noting cats are not native to America, Blazis called for a national educational effort to significantly change long-ingrained habits of pet owners who assume their right of ownership to let their cats roam free.
"They need to know they are killing with their permissive kindness," Blazis wrote.
According to Blazis, the ABC and others, an estimated 80 million feral cats currently roam the U.S. outdoors. Studies show that Wisconsin alone annually loses somewhere between 17 million to 30 million songbirds to outdoors felines. Nationally, feral and domestic cats annually kill between 100 million to 300 million songbirds in America, with some estimates placing that number closer to 1 billion.
In 2005, 57 percent of the 12,000-member Wisconsin Conservation Congress voted to support a proposal to allow hunters to kill feral cats in an effort to protect game birds and songbirds from predatory stray felines. Then-Gov. Jim Doyle's office was inundated with letters and e-mails from angry cat lovers, and he subsequently caved to pressure, announcing he'd never sign a bill allowing open season on free-roaming cats.
The proposal was subsequently dropped.
You see, there's no such thing as middle ground in the debate about cats in the outdoors.
- J.R. Absher Editor, The Birding Wire

Published in The Birding Wire, Swarovski Optik, January 16, 2013.

Views: 172

Replies to This Discussion

Dominic,

I have mixed feelings.  Mainly due to insufficient or conflicting information.  

My own cat used to be feral, until I took her in.  Now she's old.  I think the only birds she wants are the kind that come in a can, cooked and chopped.  There are lots of neighborhood cats.  She does her best to keep them away.  She doesn't kill mice any more either, although she used to.

She may be an exception, due to being elderly.  She also tends to lay on her back in the middle of the street.  I expect one day to come home to a flattened patch of fur in the street.  I will be sad.

Unfortunately, she tore out 2 new window screens to get outside.  So I have a cat door.  

I do feed birds.  I hope that helps them.  Squirrels get a lot of the seeds.  They also got all of my filberts, every one of them!  I need a couple of raptors here, to complete nature's cycle.

I do wish she would chase away the opossoms and raccoons that get into my kitchen garden.  Also that killed a couple of my hens.  I would also like to train her to chase away the deer that eat my fruit trees.  Unfortunately, there are no predators to keep down the deer population.  We could bring back cougars, but the mormon family down the road might object if they lose one of their 7 children.  Maybe you could send a few pythons my way?

I don't know.  With a lack of natural predators, are birds more or less prolific than in the past?  I know cougars don't eat songbirds, but I wonder if  we are down in #s of hawks and eagles.   There is also habitat transformation.  I imagine that has big effects that vary by type of bird.

I like birds for themselves, and also they eat lots of insects.

Talking against the cats is a risky business Dominic. A few years ago I lost a good friend when I did so. I don't own a cat but all the wild ones of the area use my rooftop green house in winter nights to get them warm. My plants are spiny one, so they don't meddle with them. Therefore I have no reason left to stop them staying. I even sometimes provide them food in case of rain. In past few months I noticed that some of them are becoming intrested in developing some kind of relationship with me.

I love cats and have three of my own.   I have rescued many from the streets.  But, I don't believe cats should take priority over other animals, especially when leaving leaving them wild is not to their benefit.  It saves them from euthanasia, but it allows for a death from disease, dogs, coyotees, cruelty, and cars, while being exposed to the elements.  I love cats too much to subject them to those conditions and I love wildlife too much to have them injured and killed by cats.  It would shockl you to see some of the wildlife that comes into rescue that has been injured by cats and the suffering that these animals endure.  I know there are natural predators, but there is no need to add additional ones, especially when we have lost so much environment.  Lack of habitat, disease, hawks, starvation, other predators, and flying into windows take enough of our birds and other animals.  Anyway, I don't appreciate stray or owned cats killing wildlife on my proprety, peeing against my house, and leaving stool in my flower beds while digging up the soil.  When did it become OK for people to put their responsibilities of their pets and their children on everyone else?  Thiws is coming from a teacher and an animal rescue person.

My neighbors' cats were digging up my mulch and using my garden beds, edibles and ornamentals, to urinate and defecate.  It's not just unpleasant to think about.  Mulch prevents weeds, digging it up results in more weeds for me to pull.  Which means, sometimes, discovering that I'm working in the soil with their waste.

Cats can carry toxoplasmosis.  They can also carry a variety of other infectious diseases.  Hookworms, roundworms, Campylobacter, Salmonella.   That's especially a problem if growing ground level edibles, like carrots, lettuce, radishes, strawberries, potatoes.  All of which I grow.  Who wants cat feces and cat urine in their food?

On the other hand, my Rebublican and, I think, homophobic neighbor was directing his dog to poop in my yard.  One day I went outside and discovered him there watching his dog eliminate.  I stood and watched.  Our eyes met.  I watched him as he called his dog back.  He watched me watching him.  No words were exchanged.  I haven't caught him or seen the dog feces since then.  Maybe it's the lightning bolts, that my eyes sent his, or maybe he thought better of it.  I thought about returning the dog feces to his front doorstep, then I thought better of it.

Sentient, I feel the same way about cats defecating in my soft garden soil. 

So, where is the common ground?

Well, the funny thing is that if you were to tell aneighbor that they need to keep their dog on their side of the fence, there would be no discussion.  If you complained that the dog was on your property, killing your livestock and/or wildlife, crapping in the kid's sandbox, peeing against your house, jumping up on you outdoor furniture and car, the law would be on your side.  There are even leash laws in some cities for cats.  Why should we treat cats differently?  Either keep them in or get a cat proof fence people.  Allowing cats to annoy neighbors and endangering them with poison, disease, cars, and dogs and coyotes is irresponsible.  I know some people have a lot of land and their pets roam, but when they are on the properties of others, it is a problem.  My 3 cats are behind a cat fence.  Why should I tolerate strays or cats owned by others coming on to my property and killing my birds or digging up my garden?

Perfectly and powerfully stated. 

I felt the same way about my neighbor who was letting his kids into my yard to pick fruits.    I think there should be a leash law for them too.

Oh dear, I see where it would be harder for you to be retaliatory than for me. Let me think, there must be some way to get the guy's manners working. Does he need anything from you? Does he ask for favors? The principle is to find what they want and then link it to the problem, someway.

Are his children pleasant to be around. With my oil, poop and garbage problem the five kids really wanted to be with me and I think they had some influence on their dad. 

It is really odd here, and all the parents respond with surprise, but the kids bring their lunches over, with pop or boxes of fruit juice with those little straws. They usually have other debris like wrappers. Never! Not one time have I found any evidence of their having been in my yard. Parents ask me how I get them to clean up after themselves and it is because the kids know if they violate any of the rules, they have to leave for the day and can't come back until a new day and a new attitude and behavior. 

The first batch of kids that were here 38 years ago are all grown and have families of their own. One is an astrophysicist now. Sadly, this batch of children are growing to the age where they are more interested in peers now than playing in my labyrinth. The new batch are still in diapers. 

Some people confuse me with a nice little old lady. It is my greatest pleasure to de-confuse them. Years ago, my next door neighbor, an attorney, parked his yellow cadillac next to my house on his asphalt driveway. The car had a terrible oil leak and because his five kids liked playing in my yard, and coming in for cookies and playing games, they tracked oil onto my carpet and onto my kitchen floor at the opposite side of the house.
He also had a dog that used my beautiful front garden to pee and poop. I talked to him in a reasonable tone telling him I didn't like his oil leak or his dogs excrements. Nothing changed. I started collecting poop into a five gallon bucket and it was full. Because of his large family, they had five garbage cans between his house and mine. The dogs of the neighborhood often spread his garbage over my garden. One day I found a pizza box with their name and address on it and five big garbage cans tipped over and strewn over my property.
I got paper grocery sacks and filled them with the trash, put them on top of his yellow cadillac and because I knew they had pizza boxes identifying them, I thought about what makes a good pizza; I opened the largest can of tomato juice I could find and poured it over the garbage sack and car, including his sunroof. I poured the five gallons of poop over the top.
I then went inside and called the police dept to report what I had done and why and that I was able and willing to take whatever penalty I had coming.
The neighbor came over, furious! I was at work and my son answered the door. The fellow screeched at my son for what I had done. My son looked it over carefully and said, "Yes, Mom would do something like that!"
Some days later the insurance company called me at work telling me how much the cost of the damage to his car and said I wouldn't pay it and go ahead and press charges because I had vandalized it and was ready to serve time. They dropped the whole matter.
At the time I was working on a project for the mayor of Spokane and had to call the police dept for some information. When I said my name the policeman began to laugh. "Why are you laughing, this is for the mayor?" The policeman responded that he recognized my name and the entire force knew of my actions and complimented me on being so creative and taking care of my problem.
I never had a problem after that. First talk politely, then take action that will cause pain.

Just remember that pain needs to bedirected towards the guilty human and never an innocent pet, when dealing with an issue such as pet tresspass.

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