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High Lord November

Cats and wildlife

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Posted (edited)

For the longest time I didn't really care about cats - they were fluffy and cute, but we never had one (I was more of a bird and dog person anyway). Then my sister got a cat. As a responsible parrot owner, I read up on the dangers cats pose to parrots, and learned that cats have bacteria in their saliva, mouth, and claws that can kill any bird within 72 hours if ingested or injected via wound. Even if the bird is brought straight to the vet for antibiotics, it's still likely that the bird will die.

 

Notice... bird, not just parrots! Then I started learning about the effect cats had on native wildlife.

 

Here are some sources to get you started: 

Quote

 

The American Bird Conservancy has a page that goes over the basics, with the links to the studies that support the claims and the numbers. Cats are the greatest direct human-caused threat to birds.

https://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/cats-and-birds/

 

Here is a literature survey on a variety of TNR programs. It both covers success and failure stories. They reference a total of 45 scientific studies. They conclude TNR is ineffective because of migration from sources outside the targeted colony, such as illegal dumping, and feral/stray cats that migrate from surrounding areas (due to an increase in feral colony feeding, which can support a greater cat population). Populations actually increase. It is also ineffective because of the high proportion of neutered/stray cats that need to be fixed at all times (71-94%), which means it needs to be a very intense effort over a long period of time. It is also not humane as the high number of feral cats suffer from a high rate of disease and injury, and have a short lifespan. They cite one study noticed 75% of kittens died or disappeared in managed feral colonies.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340388874_How_Effective_and_Humane_Is_Trap-Neuter-Release_TNR_for_Feral_Cats

 

 

 

It's crushing!! In the US alone, loose and feral cats are low-ball estimated to kill more than 2.5 billion birds per year. In Canada, it's an estimated 3/4 billion (750 million) per year. They kill more birds than any other direct human-caused source of death combined. They are responsible for 63 animal extinctions and counting (more than any other animal outside of humans). Not only birds, but they also kill native reptiles like snakes and lizards (read: native pest control). All just to fulfil their hunting instinct. Then I also learned that toxoplasmosis, an organism in their feces, is infecting and killing marine wildlife. Mice and rats infected with toxoplasmosis lose their aversion to cat urine, and are actually attracted to the smell.

 

Owned loose cats are at a higher risk of injury - being hit by a car, eaten by wildlife, mauled by a dog, infected with disease. Feral cats have an average lifespan of 3 years, and their deaths are not pleasant, they're inhumane. It's important to ask yourself - how do feral cats die? I have pictures I could show you - feral cats with ruptured eyeballs, huge holes in their neck from botflies, arm ripped off due to sleeping under a car's hood, neurological disorders from being malnourished and infected. And those are just the cats that were found by rescues who had the finances to give them vet care (read: like 0.00000001% of feral cats).

 

 

I guess I want to ask - are you aware of the damage cats do to the environment? If you let your cat outside uncontained, what do you think about putting the effort into keeping your cat contained given the amount of strife they cause wildlife, and the risk they pose to themselves? Do you think, given the repeated proven ineffectiveness of Trap, Neuter, Return, we need to look into different population management methods to reduce feral/loose cat suffering, and wildlife suffering?

 

Edited by High Lord November

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Pet cats belong indoors. If you can't keep a cat adequately entertained indoors, and can't leash-train them, you don't need a cat. That said, there are a lot of places where eradicating feral populations is borderline impossible because they've been established so long. TNR is ineffective at eradicating ferals from an area, but it IS effective at stopping their population from growing, reduces the amount of feral cats born into a short and painful life, and prevents more ferals that AREN'T neutered and vaccinated from moving into an area, so it's still a good idea where the resources exist.

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HM. In the area where I live, there is a grotesque over-population of rabbits. Every few years there's either an epidemic of myxomatosis or something else that leaves them dying all over the place (I have no idea what causes that, but it happens.) People's pet cats (I don't have one any more) are the only thing keeping them down (farmers shoot foxes.) They also control rats in farmers' barns. Not to mention that they could help control the massive increase in city rat populations.

 

They are not all evil and don't all have to be imprisoned.

 

We have already destroyed natural predators, and in some cases cats perform a very necessary function.

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I wonder what kind of cat hater website you gleaned all this from.

 

17 hours ago, High Lord November said:

repeated proven ineffectiveness of Trap, Neuter, Return

Has it been proven? Or is it barely that funds run out and the according programs just stop being executed? That not enough people are participating in it? Because that's what I'm seeing.

The other issue I see is that cat owners don't neuter their pets before letting them out, which I think is, to say the least, really stupid.

 

Generally, a cat has physical limits. It can only jump this high and run that fast - healthy birds would have no trouble escaping. What your fancy numbers don't say is in which conditions those killed birds were before the cat got them.

 

Either way, I would never let MY cats out. They're precious to me, and I'm living in a city with evil traffic, not to mention that Corona can also get your cats.

I do love the fact that they keep wild life OUT of my apartment. They kill spiders, bugs, moths (I used to have a moth plague before I got my first cat), paper strings, laser pointer dots ...

Also, Toxoplasmose is NOT the cat's fault. It is merely a uni-cellular organism that made use of its environmental options to spread its kind. Just like countless other organisms did.

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My very precious cats were all neutered. And we always let them out. And they hardly ever went for birds - too much like hard work. (Though one, as a kitten, managed to bring in a seagull.... that cornered him under the kitchen table; it was priceless.)

 

Cats rarely get to playgrounds to "perform" in sandboxes, as dogs do - and dogs leave roundworm eggs to give children toxocariasis, which can leave them blind. Even if you pick up after your dog - unless you literally disinfect the ground with a pesticide, the eggs can remain. All pets come with various hazards, to us and to wildlife.

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Posted (edited)

Can you link your sources? I'm aware that cats can have detrimental impacts on the environment, and I think discussion about that can be quite educating and important. But there's a lot of claims in your post that I'd feel more comfortable seeing sources for before jumping into a discussion. Particularly, claims involving specific numbers add a level of rigor to discussions that needs a more careful approach.

Edited by KrazyKarp

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Posted (edited)

39 minutes ago, KrazyKarp said:

Can you link your sources? I'm aware that cats can have detrimental impacts on the environment, and I think discussion about that can be quite educating and important. But there's a lot of claims in your post that I'd feel more comfortable seeing sources for before jumping into a discussion.

For sure.

 

The American Bird Conservancy has a page that goes over the basics, with the links to the studies that support the claims and the numbers. Cats are the greatest direct human-caused threat to birds. The 2.5 billion birds quote is from a Nature article, It is difficult to estimate the exact number because the number of feral and loose cats isn't well-documented, but the 2.5bil is the low-baller estimate.

https://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/cats-and-birds/

 

Here is a literature survey on a variety of TNR programs. It both covers success and failure stories. They reference a total of 45 scientific studies. They conclude TNR is ineffective because of migration from sources outside the targeted colony, such as illegal dumping, and feral/stray cats that migrate from surrounding areas (due to an increase in feral colony feeding, which can support a greater cat population). Most populations actually increase. It is also ineffective because of the high proportion of neutered/stray cats that need to be fixed at all times (71-94%), which means it needs to be a very intense effort over a long period of time. If you have a city with a population of 100,000 feral and loose cats, that's a gargantuan undertaking. It is also not humane as the high number of feral cats suffer from a high rate of disease and injury, and have a short lifespan. They cite one study noticed 75% of kittens died or disappeared in managed feral colonies.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340388874_How_Effective_and_Humane_Is_Trap-Neuter-Release_TNR_for_Feral_Cats

 

How do you think feral cats die is the question I would ask. It's a "natural" death, but by "natural" I mean hit by a car, infected, malnourished, eaten by wildlife, starvation, mauled to death, etc.

 

It is similar to recycling - there are certain success stories in small, highly focused areas, and sure it can technically work, but the reality of it is in Canada, only 9% of recycling that goes into the blue bin is actually recycled, a huge amount still enters the environment, and each piece of plastic can only really be recycled 2-3 times before the polymers degrade too much. We are now shifting away from recycling, and working on the reduction of producing new plastics in the first place. This needs to be paired with cleanup efforts to remove plastic from the environment. 

 

Australia is taking the steps of poisoning and hunting cats to try and reduce their numbers. They are an extreme invasive predator that is threatening a majority of their wildlife. A single cat can single-handedly destroy the nesting grounds for a species of bird, for example.


Any successful cat reduction work is similar to trying to drain a barrel with a hose pouring water into it. We need to focus on reducing the inflow (education on keeping cats contained, neutering cats, bylaw enforcement for no roaming cats, etc). We need to increase removal from the system (trapping, and adopting/euthanizing - natural death is like poking a small hole with a pencil in the barrel bottom). And we need to reduce the size of the barrel by securing food sources like dumpsters. We don't give a free pass to zebra mussels or Asian Carp, why should we give a free pass to domesticated invasive predators who have a life full of suffering?

 

 

3 hours ago, Ruby Eyes said:

I wonder what kind of cat hater website you gleaned all this from.

 

Has it been proven? Or is it barely that funds run out and the according programs just stop being executed? That not enough people are participating in it? Because that's what I'm seeing.

The other issue I see is that cat owners don't neuter their pets before letting them out, which I think is, to say the least, really stupid.

 

Generally, a cat has physical limits. It can only jump this high and run that fast - healthy birds would have no trouble escaping. What your fancy numbers don't say is in which conditions those killed birds were before the cat got them.

 

Either way, I would never let MY cats out. They're precious to me, and I'm living in a city with evil traffic, not to mention that Corona can also get your cats.

I do love the fact that they keep wild life OUT of my apartment. They kill spiders, bugs, moths (I used to have a moth plague before I got my first cat), paper strings, laser pointer dots ...

Also, Toxoplasmose is NOT the cat's fault. It is merely a uni-cellular organism that made use of its environmental options to spread its kind. Just like countless other organisms did.

 

I'm not a cat hater. I have a cat. This is the reality of the situation, and it's unfortunate. It is 'proven' to be ineffective in the same way recycling is ineffective. It can technically work sometimes, but the cost and logistics of it just aren't working out, and we need to take action to protect our wildlife and in reality, decrease the cat populations.

 

Cats are good hunters. That's undeniable. And they absolutely kill healthy birds - they're stealth hunters. They aren't just picking off sick birds - that's just plain false. As well, even if they were only killing old birds, it's still removing a source of food from a native predator, still increasing the amount of birds that are dying. When your cat kills a bird, it may also leave a nest of chicks to starve. Ingestion of saliva can kill a bird through infection. It's a cascading effect.

 

Toxoplasmosis is a result from having colonies of feral cats. Felines are the only source of the organism and are the ones who are spreading it. If cats were a massive vector for rabies and were infecting wildlife and humans at a high rate, even if the rabies aren't the cat's fault, we still need to take responsibility for the domestic animal that's suffering and causing the mass unneeded death of wildlife.

 

Edited by High Lord November

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Posted (edited)

You make it sound like cats are responsible for all the woes.of our world. The Truth is that human are the most destructive, detrimental, hazardous species this planet has. So because these cats suffer they should what? be killed off? What exactly is Your solution? 

Every species has an impact on our environment both in positive and negative ways. You can't showcase the one and not the other. Nature has a balance to it. We, humanity, have constantly thrown that balance out of wack. We are what negatively impacts our environment. Don't go pinning some environmental disaster on cats. Because people drove out the Seagulls in Utah it caused an issue with a population boom of locusts. There is always cause and effect. And you can usually trace the source to humans.

Yes feral cats are an issue but that is not their fault. We breed them and make them into pets which was not there original purpose. We make the dependant on us and now that their population out grew demand we should eradicate the problem that is feral cats?

Have you ever tried to work with them? I have. I feel sorry for them they have been abandon and neglected. And underneath all that is a good loving cat just wanting to be loved and kept safe in a good home. They can be shown how to be a house cat. But it does take a lot of work and time. Some places like one I lived at like to keep feral colonies cause it helps keep the pest,/rat population down. One of them showed his appreciation for my love and care by leaving that rat at our doorstep to say see I do my part. They were all very loving with me. Though it took some time for that. Before I moved I worked to socialize them get them used to people so hopefully someone would take them in. Worked on bad habits they had like head hitting and swatting or biting. I made a lot of progress with all of them. One had been too scared to ever leave this one corner with bushes. It was so sad. Most of it didn't take long at all. Its mostly about building trust, respect and love. Food helps too. But I'm not a believer in just leaving food out for them. I mostly hand fed them. Forcing them to get close, come into contact with you helps bridge that gap. Oh and I am a big believer in all cats, ferals included, should experience catnip! Just leave them be after, no touching!!! 😅

 

Many believe that cats could have helped with the plagues of the past. As at least one plagues was spread by fleas that were carried by rats..which cats killed but so many believed cats were evil.

And just so no one thinks I'm villianizing rats. I do love rats as well . I've had them as pets as well. Probably among my favorites, as I had mice, hamsters, gerbils, and of course rats. But they do carry issues with them. of course, that's where a vet comes in.

 

I once saw a reenactment of this man whose was having a heart attack and his cat climbed the table and jumped down on to the mans chest over and over saving his life.

Did you know cats purr at just the right frequency to.promote healing? Dogs are slightly off of that.  I admit I was skeptical about it,even having cats my whole life, but I have had health issues my whole life, and I have suffered from severe chronic migraines. And when my cat would come up and purr for me, my migraines would always get better.

 

And have you never seen a dog chase after lizards? My mom's dog stomps around in the bushes trying to flush them out to catch, it's her new obsession. It used to be squirrels, deer(man would she take off after them), peacocks,etc.

And yes cats kill birds if they can it part of their nature. And they can't catch birds normally. Usually the birds killed are pets and that's likely cause their owners Clipped their wings to keep them from flying away. And in my opinion in those cases it's the humans fault. They should know by now that cats will kill a bird given a chance. It is the Human's responsibility to ensure the well being of both animals. They are the ones with the knowledge and capability to see that both are being kept responsibly. If they can't then they should not have both. It is not the cats fault for the owners lack of responsibility if the cat kills the bird.

Cats are born predators after all, same with dogs which were bred from wolves. 

Edited by AngelsSin

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I had to write a little bit about the impacts of cat predation on birds in urban landscapes for my most recent coursework and, sadly, its very true: domestic cats let outdoors and ferals can both have a massive impact on wildlife predation rates and overall biodiversity. Apparently, it can even impact predator risk perception behaviours, which basically means birds can become very stressed and hypervigilant to the risk of cat predation.

 

I think its really sad to hear about how bad of an impact cats as an invasive species have had on biodiversity and natives species as a whole. I found a 2016 paper which confirms the stat that cats have led to the extinction of 63 species (40 bird, 21 mammal, and 2 reptile species) which makes up 26% of all extinctions caused by invasive species so far. To add onto that, invasive species have led to the endangerment of 738 vertebrate species, worldwide.

 

Here's the reading, if anyone's interested: Doherty, et al., Invasive predators and global biodiversity loss, PNAS

 

A reading I used estimated that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually, with ~69% of mortality caused by un-owned cats. A bit of a shame the authors didn't differentiate between owned and unowned cats but other parts of the literature do suggest owned cats hunt considerably and can have an impact on bird biodiversity (e.g. Loyd et al. (2013) estimated that 44% of owned cats hunt.)

 

Here's a link to it, if you're interested:

Loss, Will, Marra (2013), The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States, Nature Communications, 4, 1396

 

Another good reading discusses the misinformation and criticisms around US cat predation and how it challenges invasive species policy and management. It's open access for me, so I will link it in the hopes that this will be the same for others:

Loss, et al. (2018), Responding to misinformation and criticisms regarding United States cat predation estimates, Biological Invasions, 20, 3385-3396

 

 

 

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Nice nice, ok.

 

3 hours ago, High Lord November said:

Any successful cat reduction work is similar to trying to drain a barrel with a hose pouring water into it. We need to focus on reducing the inflow (education on keeping cats contained, neutering cats, bylaw enforcement for no roaming cats, etc). We need to increase removal from the system (trapping, and adopting/euthanizing - natural death is like poking a small hole with a pencil in the barrel bottom). And we need to reduce the size of the barrel by securing food sources like dumpsters. We don't give a free pass to zebra mussels or Asian Carp, why should we give a free pass to domesticated invasive predators who have a life full of suffering?

This is a particularly strong statement, and is 100% true. If an animal is causing far too many problems in its environment, this kind of population control is the way to go. Another species that comes to mind not "getting a free pass" is lionfish.

 

3 hours ago, High Lord November said:

How do you think feral cats die is the question I would ask. It's a "natural" death, but by "natural" I mean hit by a car, infected, malnourished, eaten by wildlife, starvation, mauled to death, etc.

This is where I'm sort of not entirely onboard. Feral cats are no different from any other wild animal, and other wild animals suffer some pretty gruesome and inhumane fates; infected, malnourished, etc. Like how you mentioned we don't give a free pass to zebra mussels or Asian carp, we also shouldn't give a free pass to feral cats; they're treated by nature like any other wild animal. Of course, then you consider the detrimental impact of them on other species, and that there is the justification of population control/human intervention.

 

1 hour ago, AngelsSin said:

You make it sound like cats are responsible for all the woes.of our world. The Truth is that human are the most destructive, detrimental, hazardous species this planet has. So because these cats suffer they should what? be killed off? What exactly is Your solution? 

Actually, yes, part of population control would be killing. In fact, that would be part of us correcting our mistake as much as possible. There have been species in the past that negatively impacted the environment (both related to and independent of humans) so greatly that they needed population control, which includes killing. Wouldn't be any different from killing the locusts in Utah to help population control them.

 

1 hour ago, AngelsSin said:

Many believe that cats could have helped with the plagues of the past. As at least one plagues was spread by fleas that were carried by rats..which cats killed but so many believed cats were evil.

And just so no one thinks I'm villianizing rats. I do love rats as well . I've had them as pets as well. Probably among my favorites, as I had mice, hamsters, gerbils, and of course rats. But they do carry issues with them. of course, that's where a vet comes in.

 

I once saw a reenactment of this man whose was having a heart attack and his cat climbed the table and jumped down on to the mans chest over and over saving his life.

Did you know cats purr at just the right frequency to.promote healing? Dogs are slightly off of that.  I admit I was skeptical about it,even having cats my whole life, but I have had health issues my whole life, and I have suffered from severe chronic migraines. And when my cat would come up and purr for me, my migraines would always get better.

This is all true, but is in no way related to this thread. We're talking about destructive feral and domesticated cats not properly handled, not your regular indoor cat that helps your migraines. You're trying to justify the destruction of feral and domesticated cats by centering the discussion on how domesticated, properly handled cats help humans. It's comparing apples to oranges.

 

1 hour ago, AngelsSin said:

And have you never seen a dog chase after lizards? My mom's dog stomps around in the bushes trying to flush them out to catch, it's her new obsession. It used to be squirrels, deer(man would she take off after them), peacocks,etc.

I'd need a source saying this behavior of dogs is as bad as the destruction cats have done (which is entirely possible in certain areas). A personal anecdote of your mom's dog holds little in a discussion about the larger impact of a species on the environment.

 

1 hour ago, AngelsSin said:

And yes cats kill birds if they can it part of their nature. And they can't catch birds normally. Usually the birds killed are pets and that's likely cause their owners Clipped their wings to keep them from flying away. And in my opinion in those cases it's the humans fault. They should know by now that cats will kill a bird given a chance. It is the Human's responsibility to ensure the well being of both animals. They are the ones with the knowledge and capability to see that both are being kept responsibly. If they can't then they should not have both. It is not the cats fault for the owners lack of responsibility if the cat kills the bird.

Cats are born predators after all, same with dogs which were bred from wolves. 

We're not living in a perfect and ideal world. Ideally, cool, we'd help feral cats and birds live together while not hurting either. Realistically, from the sources Lord November posted, this is not the case. Hard truths: population control of feral cats would involve killing. Just like many other invasive species population controlling, which is how humans are helping the environment. It is not our responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of individual cats and birds. It 100% is our responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the populations of these animals. Very, very different statements. I'd also need to see a source in your claim that most birds killed by cats were actually pets that had their wings clipped, because that's an incredibly bold claim after Lord November's source says 2.5 billion bird deaths are related to feral/loose cats. And so now you're claiming billions and billions of birds are killed by cats because they are pets with clipped wings. You need to back that up.

 

1 hour ago, AngelsSin said:

You make it sound like cats are responsible for all the woes.of our world.

This is, to put it bluntly, an incredibly dramatic and incorrect assessment of Lord November's post.

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Posted (edited)

No you are just picking on cats. Why stop with just one species. Bats are the new bad species (Sarcasm). If you understood nature you would know they all have their roles to play.

 And as you say we don't live in a perfect world though not sure how you inferred that is what I was saying from my post. The very fact I've worked with feral cats should suggest at the very least I KNOW this world is far from perfect.

 

Did you need to see video of my mom's dog terrorizing the local wildlife, a dogs nature is to hunt.  Doesn't mean I think she's hazardous or that she needs to be put down.

 

Have you no idea of the sheer numbers of dogs abandoned/neglected/abused,etc  on the street where they can turn feral.  Breeders mass produce dogs and we already have more than have homes. Not to mention dog fighting, and not just dogs, other species too.. And all the diseases they carry.  Are you gonna put down mans best friend too?

What about Lions, Tigers, Bears, Leopards, etc they all kill too. They all if you research it negatively (and positively too!!!!) impact the environment.

So why JUST CATS? That is my point. Like I said it SOUNDS like you have a thing against cats, that's all. And Sounds doesn't mean the same as fact. And yes my statement on cats and woes was an exaggeration but only slightly it was meant to be Sarcastic.

My statement wasn't an incorrect assessment it was my opinion on how their post came off to me.

 

As I said before Each species has negative and positive effect on the environment.  You want to harp on cats fine but don't do so without also stating the positives or at least be fair and talk about how ALL SPECIES negatively impact our environment.

And if you want to talk about out of control population. I still stand by that humans are the worst offenders and I know, I and I'm sure you as well, don't intend to advocate for putting down humanity.

I do not support putting animals down because they are inconvenient to you. Only if an animal is unlikely to survive and will suffer otherwise, that is the only appropriate time to do so.

 

I wonder how humans would feel if they were the ones who were supposed to be pets but became inconvenient and they were put down, because we were to hazardous for our environment. Which I imagine most wouldn't like. Since it is hard to get approval/acceptance to die on your own terms in your own time even if your sick and dying anyway.

But put down any other species cause you feel they negatively impact your environment too greatly. What a poor species we must be then. Destroying our environment and the environment of all the other species on our planet. You want to know the biggest reason species go extinct----humans. And still we aren't satisfied with what we have wrought but we need to eradicate more apparently.

And talking of invasive species . how do you think they all got where they weren't supposed to be? Yep once again humans. All roads lead back to one. And funny how no one thinks of Humans as an invasive species, but we are the most invasive species of all. And we have the answer to cat over population is that right? And the answer is death? Destruction of a large portion of another species? One we helped to create and cause a dependence on us? We really don't learn do we?

 

Humans didn't kill the locusts. Nature did that. Humans are the ones who mucked everything up to begin with so don't act like it was humans who fixed that problem in Utah. Humans were the cause of the problem. Nature corrected itself.

 

Don't get me wrong I know there is a huge population issue not Just with Cats but Dogs as well.

But I will not agree that putting them down is in any way shape or form the answer. Another point I was trying to make but it was clearly missed in my last post.

I wasn't justifying anything I was simply pointing out cats have positive traits too. And feral cats are cats too and if you had ever worked with them AS I HAVE you would know they have those same positive traits. being homeless doesn't make them less of a cat with no positives. It means your dealing with a traumatized animal, that's all. One that was bred to be dependent on humans. They are as a Whole and Individually our responsibility. Same with dogs.

 

It's clear to me you've made your mind up already on cats.

Quote

And so now you're claiming billions and billions of birds are killed by cats because they are pets with clipped wings. You need to back that up.

 

 I also never said most birds that were killed had clipped wings. I said usually. And those are birds that are killed at home or by a roaming cat not ferals, I was talking about. And I certainly never claimed billions and billions. That is just an out and out lie. And not even close to what I was saying or implying. Everything dies but it is not our place to be judge jury and executioner to all other species. Cause I guarantee we will find a way to muck things up even worse. 

 

@KrazyKarp

To use your own words 

Quote

This is, to put it bluntly, an incredibly dramatic and incorrect assessment 

 

Most ferals are in such poor shape they wouldn't stand a chance catching a bird. Alot can barely walk. But how often do you see a cat that has actually caught a bird? When a healthy bird can fly away? and why so up in arms about the birds? Why are the birds the only ones you care about protecting?

 

Everything I stated was about or referring to the main subject.  Or giving an example of how the same situation turned around to point out the hypocrisy humans have concerning life and those who have the right to live or die including animals. Apparently humans want to weigh the scales of natural selection/the right of survival, when it comes to cats. And from what I am reading here only concerning cats. Every other species is good is that it? Cats must be pretty evil then. (Heavy Sarcasm)

 

Also Pigs(Swine flu), bats(covid), birds(avian flu), Monkeys(HIV/AIDS), Mosquitoes(Zika, West Nile,etc.),  MERS also known as camel flu, Rabies, Sars,etc.

do I really need to go on? Those are just off the top of my head I'm sure if I researched it I could find diseases for every species. Every animal produces waste/methane, etc. What about cows they expel tons of waste,damaging the environment, not to mention mad cow disease. Should we put them down to along with the chickens and pigs? Where does it end? just how many would you have us kill? Is that really the best answer you can come up with or is that just your easy way out? Don't get me wrong I don't have that answer either but I KNOW it is not killing off huge portions of animals!

 

Also the title of this thread is Cats and Wildlife. 

So talking of other animals isn't OT. As.well as the difference of feral and domestic cats is not OT.  It IS the TOPIC. Clearly someone needs to stand up for the poor kitties of the world since it seems death is the answer some appear to want for them.

Source: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2018-6-november-december/ask-mr-green/how-do-dogs-affect-environment

Edited by AngelsSin

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Posted (edited)

I think about this a lot, as someone who has worked in cat rescue and who has worked in wildlife rehab.

 

It's a very difficult balance, but a lot of the things in thread seem to be "I don't see the problem, so there isn't a problem" or else it's "well, that's not the only problem, so it's not really a problem."  Neither of those is correct, folks.

 

Feral, community, and in/outdoor cats are a problem for wildlife.  As others have mentioned, they have a heavy impact on wildlife populations.  That does include rats - and squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, moles, and other mammals as well as birds, of both harmful and helpful species!  (I have joked about wishing I could train the local feral cats to hunt only European Starlings and House Sparrows, which are invasive nonnative species...)  Bird impacts are probably the most studied, and maybe the easiest to find clear evidence of (it's easier to tell a clump of cardinal feathers from a clump of robin feathers than it is a clump of rat fur from a clump of squirrel fur when you're analyzing signs of cat predation), but from my work in wildlife rehab I can say that mammal impacts are probably significant, too.  Not least because of mammal biology: most birds raise their young in pairs, but most young mammals are raised only by the female.  If a cat kills a female bird during breeding season, the male bird might still be able to raise the nestlings.  But if a cat kills a female squirrel, any babies she was nursing are going to die, too.  (And remember that, because of the bacteria load in a cat's claws and mouth, pretty much anything the cat catches is killed, even if you see it "get away" after being swatted around.) 

 

Cat biology plays a role, too.  Any way you slice it, cats are a non-native predator that North American wildlife isn't adapted for.  Cats hunt from instinct triggered by prey motion and sound, not from hunger.  Feeding cats doesn't reduce their hunting behaviors.  Cats are small enough to hunt in a huge variety of habitats, from extremely urban to extremely rural, and they are generalist hunters, not specialists. They are extremely skilled and adaptable hunters, too: studies show that belled collars don't affect a cat's effectiveness at hunting.  Their small size means that without specific tracking efforts, it's difficult for owners to know what their cats do.  Lots of people who let their cats out probably think their cat doesn't kill wildlife, because they've never seen it happen, so they think it's not an issue (or that their cat should be the exception); but just because a cat doesn't bring home dead animals doesn't mean the cat doesn't hunt.  It's an instinct, not a starvation measure, and again, even if they just "play" with a wild animal without eating it, that animal is not going to survive.

 

For those of you going "well, what about dogs" or "well, what about cars" - those are problems, too. Nobody's denying it.  Nobody has said cats are "evil" or that they only care about one type of animal, either.  Most people involved with this issue care about all types of animals, a lot!  The thing is that most people don't regard free-roaming dogs as 'natural.'  Dogs that roam the streets are generally picked up by animal control, because of the risk of rabies (and perhaps because of their larger size making car collisions more of a concern).  Cats often are not - in fact, my local animal control department explicitly does not come out for cats, period.  But ultimately, the existence of other problems doesn't lessen this one.  The fact that cars kill wildlife doesn't make cats killing wildlife better; if anything, it makes it worse.  Wildlife faces a hundred threats, from vehicles to habitat loss to predation.  If we could remove even one threat, think what an impact that could make. 

 

Outdoor cats are also a problem for cats.  Living outdoors greatly decreases a cat's lifespan - from ~15 years to ~6 years.  (Source: UC Davis VetMed)  Outdoor cats die of diseases, of parasites, of injuries, of fights (particularly unneutered/unspayed cats), from reproductive complications, from encounters with wildlife, from intentional poison (whether put out for the cats themselves, or for rodents they then eat) and from unintentional poison (such as antifreeze leaks and pesticide treatments), from cold and from hunger, from being run over by cars or climbing into car engines to stay warm, from encounters with dogs... from gunshots. 

 

Working with cats, I would see at least one person a week come into the shelter with a poster and the same story: "Our cat always comes back!  But now s/he hasn't."  I would take their poster and give them some resources, and hope that their cat just got chased into a neighbor's shed, but aware that the odds of them ever finding their cat again are slim, even for a microchipped pet.  Studies are somewhat scarce, but at least two suggest that lost outdoor- access cats have a recovery rate of less than half.  (Link with sources: 31% in one study, 45% in another). 

 

Cats are a domesticated animal.  Their "natural habitat" is with us.  And if we can change our culture to believe that turning your dog out to roam the neighborhood on a daily basis is wrong, because animal companions deserve our protection and care, and should have more than just a "natural" existence of danger and distress, then we can do it for cats, too.  Anybody grow up reading old books like Big Red or Old Yeller or the James Herriot books?  It used to be quite common to think that animals didn't belong indoors, that all you needed to feed your pet was table scraps, that dying of rabies or fighting was a normal way to lose a pet, that if you had too many animals you just drowned or shot some.  We have changed, and for both wildlife and our domestic friends I hope we continue to change. Wildlife deserves better, and cats deserve better, than a "natural" life that amounts to flooding habitats with introduced predators and neglect for a domestic species we should be responsible for.

Edited by sorenna

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High Lord and sorenna are 100% correct, I have a wildlife biology degree and am currently getting my master's degree. But the topic as you can see, is a very heated topic and probably won't go well. However talk to any naturalist, birder, wildlife biologist, wildlife rehabber, and they will all tell you the same thing. Anyways, I don't really have anything to say that @sorenna didn't already say, but please just read what they have wrote and put it into consideration. 

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My personal feelings on it are that domestic cats should usually be indoor pets - for the health of the cat. Outside cats live much shorter lives on average than an indoor cat, and an indoor cat will thrive if the owners provide it enough stimulation. Many outdoor cats are killed by cars, but they are also more at risk for diseases.

 

Don't get me started on cat owners who don't neuter/spay their pets, then put them outside. It makes me so angry.

 

I have never heard that trap-neuter-release is ineffective. I have heard that there can be problems with communities resisting the program because they think it is cruel, which its not.

 

I am confused by the poster above who stated cats are not native to North America. There are all kinds of wild cats in North America: bobcats, pumas, lynxes, ocelots, jaguarundis, and jaguars. Its incorrect to say prey are poorly adapted to being hunted by cats. The bigger issue is simply the numbers of an influx of 'domestic' predators, especially in urban settings. In rural settings, an outdoor cat might not have as much impact on wildlife simply because there wouldn't be many cats per square mile. But in a city full of people with outdoor cats - unneutered cats? - that could easily have huge effects on the wildlife.

 

But I always come back to - for the health of the cat, keep it inside. I've seen some really cool cat jungles and tunnels built that take the cat from the house through a yard and back inside, without allowing a way for them to escape and run loose. It can be done!

 

Also, please for the love of - spay and neuter your pets. So many are put down in shelters because of irresponsible people.

 

my sources: biology degree and professional experience with wild and domestic cats as well as parrots and macaws

Edited by Aniia

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Here before the thread gets locked...

 

Although, I agree with neutering your cats - it’s good for the environment and doesn’t really effect their quality of life

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Very thankful to see this thread - if you cannot keep your cat indoors (or give it supervised outdoor time!) then do not get a cat.  If you think people saying these things are "just picking on cats" or are automatically cat haters you quite frankly should not own a cat.

 

Massive cat lover here, also an animal biology major.  Very aware of how destructive cats are when let outdoors unsupervised.  "If you understood nature you would know they all have their roles to play." No, because domestic cats do not belong in our nature - they are an invasive species that is terrifyingly effective at damaging local wildlife populations.  You're also just flat out putting your cat's wellbeing on the line by letting it roam and if something bad happens to your outdoor cat you are partially at fault; I know it sounds harsh but it's the truth.  

 

Editing to add that a lot of people automatically assume making safe outdoor areas for your cat is ridiculously expensive but this really doesn't have to be the case!  I remember catsitting for my mom's co-worker as a teen and they had catproofed their old outdoor kiddie slide and made a tube entrance to it so the kitties got to go out whenever they pleased while still being out of harm's way. 

Edited by Falorni

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2 hours ago, Falorni said:

Massive cat lover here, also an animal biology major.  Very aware of how destructive cats are when let outdoors unsupervised.  "If you understood nature you would know they all have their roles to play." No, because domestic cats do not belong in our nature - they are an invasive species that is terrifyingly effective at damaging local wildlife populations.

 

Am I missing something? Some people are calling cats invasive species, which is untrue, as North America has several endemic species of wild cats. Unless you're referring to somewhere else? I'm so confused by this.

 

The OP referred to the United States, so I have been assuming we're talking about North America...

Edited by Aniia

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5 hours ago, Aniia said:

 

Am I missing something? Some people are calling cats invasive species, which is untrue, as North America has several endemic species of wild cats. Unless you're referring to somewhere else? I'm so confused by this.

 

The OP referred to the United States, so I have been assuming we're talking about North America...

Not American, so... nah, not talking about the US specifically.  Even with them tho - to my knowledge the domestic housecat is not native to North America so it is an invasive species

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Ok. I’m probably going to get hated on but I don’t see a problem letting a pet cat out if they are spayed/neutered. And I don’t see a problem with said pet cats killing birds if the bird species targeted are not endangered. 

 

My aunt rescues cats in the French countryside and it is disappointingly common for owners to refuse to spay/neuter their cats and still let them out. So there are many kittens that are killed or grow up feral. My aunt uses her own money to TNR the feral cats and also cares for them (feeding, vet visits).  She rescues the kittens she finds and keep them or adopt them out. But there are too many for one woman. I really wish that spaying/neutering cats would be mandatory everywhere. It already is in Belgium and I’ve never seen a feral cat there!

 

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23 hours ago, Aniia said:

 

Am I missing something? Some people are calling cats invasive species, which is untrue, as North America has several endemic species of wild cats. Unless you're referring to somewhere else? I'm so confused by this.

 

The OP referred to the United States, so I have been assuming we're talking about North America...

 

The domestic housecat is an invasive species. It's honestly the worst invasive species worldwide - they're responsible for more extinctions (70+ and counting) than any other animal, bar none. In North America, they kill billions of birds every year (as well as billions of reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals). They kill 5 times more birds than window, car, and windmill collisions do each year.

 

Imagine the bird population like a reservoir of water, and human-caused deaths of birds like holes in the bottom of the tank. Let's say you 100% patch up the 'hole' that is bird-object collisions. Then you look a little to the left, and see a hole 5 times the size of the one you just patched, just gushing water. Yet window collisions are totally fine to work on and get a lot of media attention and money, while cats are almost a taboo subject. I'm not implying that we should stop preventing bird collisions - it's just entirely hypocritical to say we need to prevent bird deaths via collisions while saying that bird death via cats are fine.

 

No native cat species has a density where there will be 100,000+ roaming in a small city, which is the estimate for Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. They are artificially propped up in the environment by people who feed them, let them roam, breed them, and abandon them. They maim and kill for fun, because their brains are wired to reward when hunting. And it's a suffering, drawn-out death via infection, fracture, and puncture wounds that's entirely ecologically useless and unnecessary.  http://www.hobbitstee.com/cats.php

 

Edited by High Lord November

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Firstly, I agree 100% that cats should be indoor pets for their own health, and I don't doubt their effect on the environment and prey species, especially in areas with large feral populations. I fully support trap-neuter-release programs but I wish there could be more done to convince people that domestic cats are best suited to be indoor pets. The lifespan of a cat is 15 years. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 3 years. That fact alone should convince pet owners to be more responsible.

 

I do take issue on the use of the term "invasive species" which comes charged with all kinds of baggage - we're going to have to agree to disagree here, but I think its a semantics issue rather than one of substance.

 

On 9/28/2021 at 8:47 AM, High Lord November said:

They are artificially propped up in the environment by people who feed them, let them roam, breed them, and abandon them. They maim and kill for fun, because their brains are wired to reward when hunting.

 

Yes to your first point, irresponsible pet owners are definitely reinforcing these negative consequences.

 

However, your second sentence is disturbing. Cats do not maim and kill "for fun." Domestic cats retain the instinct from their wild cousins to stalk and catch any prey they see, even if they are not hungry because 1) wild cats can't count on regular meals and 2) all cats are hardwired to avoid eating the same type of prey twice in a row - this is an evolutionary adaptation because all their nutrients come from meat. Humans tend to attribute human qualities to animals, and your comment shows an understandable human bias. But cats don't kill for fun. Humans do.

 

my sources: biology degree, professional experience with wild cats, domestic cats, feral cats, parrots and macaws.

Edited by Aniia
edited for clarity

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Posted (edited)

On 9/29/2021 at 12:15 PM, Aniia said:

 

Firstly, I agree 100% that cats should be indoor pets for their own health, and I don't doubt their effect on the environment and prey species, especially in areas with large feral populations. I fully support trap-neuter-release programs but I wish there could be more done to convince people that domestic cats are best suited to be indoor pets. The lifespan of a cat is 15 years. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 3 years. That fact alone should convince pet owners to be more responsible.

 

I do take issue on the use of the term "invasive species" which comes charged with all kinds of baggage - we're going to have to agree to disagree here, but I think its a semantics issue rather than one of substance.

 

 

Yes to your first point, irresponsible pet owners are definitely reinforcing these negative consequences.

 

However, your second sentence is disturbing. Cats do not maim and kill "for fun." Domestic cats retain the instinct from their wild cousins to stalk and catch any prey they see, even if they are not hungry because 1) wild cats can't count on regular meals and 2) all cats are hardwired to avoid eating the same type of prey twice in a row - this is an evolutionary adaptation because all their nutrients come from meat. Humans tend to attribute human qualities to animals, and your comment shows an understandable human bias. But cats don't kill for fun. Humans do.

 

my sources: biology degree, professional experience with wild cats, domestic cats, feral cats, parrots and macaws.

 

I don't think it's a stretch to call them an invasive species. They are a non-native species that is extremely detrimental to their non-native environment, persistent in the environment, and cause severe damage/interference to native species.

 

Cats are hardwired to hunt, which is also how they play, and a source of enrichment for them. I specify this because they are wired to hunt and maim, even if they are not hungry - it is not a hunger-related behaviour, which some people seem to think it is ("my cat is well-fed at home, he doesn't kill birds/snakes/mammals/amphibians!) In that sense it is 'for fun'.  You exercise that hunting instinct in captivity for the purpose of enrichment.

Edited by High Lord November

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15 hours ago, High Lord November said:

 

I don't think it's a stretch to call them an invasive species. They are a non-native species that is extremely detrimental to their non-native environment, persistent in the environment, and cause severe damage/interference to native species.

 

Cats are hardwired to hunt, which is also how they play, and a source of enrichment for them. I specify this because they are wired to hunt and maim, even if they are not hungry - it is not a hunger-related behaviour, which some people seem to think it is ("my cat is well-fed at home, he doesn't kill birds/snakes/mammals/amphibians!) In that sense it is 'for fun'.  You exercise that hunting instinct in captivity for the purpose of enrichment.

 

Regarding invasive species, we'll have to agree to disagree, and I don't have interest in discussing it further.

 

Regarding your second point, I'm not sure how to phrase this so it makes sense to you. You are arguing the point about whether cats hunt based on hunger, but if you read my reply above, I've already stated that they hunt regardless of their current hunger level. They are hard-wired to stalk and catch any prey they see, even if they are not hungry because 1) wild cats can't count on regular meals and 2) all cats are hardwired to avoid eating the same type of prey twice in a row - this is an evolutionary adaptation because all their nutrients come from meat. What we call play behavior and enrichment in mammals is a way for the animal to learn the skills they need to survive. You and I are in general agreement on these facts.

 

My criticism is because you are attributing human qualities to animals with personal bias. Cats do not maim and kill "for fun." Instinct does not equal pleasure. You make it sound as if cats are like children squishing beetles for their amusement, but that is simply untrue. A human will kill for amusement, but the cat is killing by instinct. Again, I don't know how to make this clearer.

 

Anything involving animals we love as pets is bound to bring out strong emotions. This would be a more productive discussion if we could try and keep to facts without coloring them with personal emotions or bias. To that goal - what was the reason for your original post? To spread awareness about the issues of outdoor domestic cats? To advocate for keeping cats indoor pets versus outdoors? To have a discussion about methods of population control for feral cats? If we're going to continue this conversation, let's all get ourselves in check and have a facts-based discussion. We can accept that cats have a major impact on the environment without feeling resentment, and we can share concern about those impacts without implying that cats are sadistic.

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Posted (edited)

Hi, as an observer, I wasn't interpreting "cats maim and kill for fun" as implying sadism, but as a sort of, cats find hunting fun the same way a kid finds playing capture the flag fun, in terms of exercise plus objectives, a sort of "yay I caught the thing!", without the cats really having any understanding of the suffering inflicted, because it's equally fun for them to play-hunt with moving toys. The maiming and killing is a consequence of them having fun outside with native wildlife and they don't know they're causing the prey pain because they're cats. But cats certainly are complex enough to experience something like pleasure, even if it's different from a human experience of it and likely simpler, and that's why indoor cats still need enrichment that lets them fulfill those behaviors--because they are capable of pleasure and boredom.

 

Are there any studies about the long-term effectiveness of TNR programs on cat populations on islands, where cats migrating in from nearby areas isn't really a thing?

Edited by TCA

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We need swift and firm action done on this. Other countries such as Australia is killing off the feral cats to save the native wildlife. 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/magazine/australia-cat-killing.html

 

Maybe if people were actual good and responsible pet owners then it wouldnt have gotten to this point. But too many people are LAZY and STUPID and would rather toss their pet cat outside because they dont want to actually be bothered with feeding and caring for their pet while pretending that "oh fluffy can find food outside hurr durr". All while ignoring the toture that they are putting wildlife through. But they dont care about that. So lets talk about the torture they put the cats through. 

 

https://www.perfect-fit.co.uk/cat-advice/move/letting-your-cat-outside#:~:text=Outdoor cats are much more,rat poison%2C are also dangerous.

https://www.ccspca.com/blog-spca/education/letting-cats-outside/

https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/indoor-cats-vs-outdoor-cats/

 

Disease, injury, posioning, death, etc. 

 

 

and yet people dont care about their cats at all because they are too STUPID and LAZY.

 

b-but but but they get bored inside!!!1111!!!11!!1

 

So get off your ass and do your goddamn job as a pet owner and enrich their lives inside. Play with them, get them toys, cuddle with them, feed them, love them. But again too many people are too STUPID and too LAZY to be bothered. 

 

Otherwise you see all these innocent cats getting slaughtered because they pose a threat to native wildlife. And other countries are going to do it too. Its only a matter of time. 

 

Cant afford to give a cat an actual GOOD life? Dont have the ****ing cat them. Dont own a pet that you cant afford to take care of. PETS ARE A LUXURY NOT A RIGHT. 

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