I love cats, birds, and all animals, but I don't think cats should be treated as wild animals and 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.
Thanks for posting your article here too. I appreciate it Dominic.
It's easy to keep your cats indoors when you live on the 4th floor, but what you get then, are cats that are extra dependable on their human with the canopener. The cats that live with me sometimes go outside to play in my small roof garden, but they don't play much for they distrust the sky. They were born under a ceiling and don't know if it's allright without a ceiling. For security they sit under a chair or under one of the small shrubs; they know that the sky sometimes throws water at them, snow, bird droppings or loud sounds - after a very short time they go inside to rest from all that exitement.
Long ago I lived in a tiny house with a garden: the cats I had then were flea-bitten outdoor cats, who only reported back at dinner time. They got all the illnesses that came around, I had to rescue them from other houses or take them to the vet when someone shot at them or threw glass.
I love my cats, I want them to have a good life and I don't want them come to harm, but how and at what price? A cat can live inside or outside - there is not much in between for them. The housing situation of the owner is probably what decides how the cat lives.
If you had a ground floor house with a garden, would you sit in the garden with your family and leave the cat indoors on a hot summer day? You'd probably open all the doors and windows and let the cat decide for herself.
One of my feminist friend says that "Man was last animal dometicated by the women".
Many of the religions, espacially Islam seems to me as consiparacy of men against the women.
There are lots of women who rebel and leave - I was one of them - and I know why many don't leave. The ones who rebel and leave are from that moment persona non grata in the church community and often in their family too. The rebels often had no friends and acqaintances outside church and family because the church discourages outside contacts, so they are on their own and have to build everything from scratch. It's hard and lonely work: I've never forgotten those first years when I had no one to talk to apart from my cat.
You are right Peter, in many cases women chose sufferings because of fear of loss of children. The only thing on the earth I appreciate about Law makers in Pakistan is that, in case of seperation under 18 children are right of mother here.
I appreciate the bravery of your decision Chris. Its better to suffer for a while than destroy whole life living with a person you don't like. I always had great respect for such women.
Thanks Amer! It was no choice: be unhappy or scram... And starting with my cat I found new friends and even a new family.
They now sell cat proof fences which allow cats out of the house but contained in a space. Some of them are tunnel like and enclosed mith mesh. Others are tall flexible fencing that goes around and area and curves in at the top. I designed my own and had it built around a portion of my property. My cats, dogs, goats, and tortoises use the space and the dogs and cats go in and out through a dog/cat door.
That's very responsible, Dominic.
O yes, I never thought of that - a very good solution!