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On Wildlife Murder, the Cat’s Out of the Bag

cats-birds-2-013013

A new study makes the powerful case that cats who are left to roam out of doors are doing enormous damage to wildlife. Cat lovers and cat protection groups can howl and claw back as much as they like, but the fact is we've all known for a long time that felis silvestris catus is a natural born killer.

While many cat protection groups say that far more birds are killed by flying into high-rise buildings, windmills, etc., these arguments have become a bit like Ronald Reagan preferring to believe that he didn't sell arms to the contras in Nicaragua. ("in my heart, I still believe that we did not sell arms for hostages, but the evidence appears to indicate otherwise.") In the case of cats and their prey, the evidence now appears to be overwhelming:

We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4–3.7 billion birds and 6.9–20.7 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.

It doesn't help that cat welfare groups are often at war with bird welfare groups. While we don't know exactly how many birds live in or migrate through the United States each year, the enormous numbers of birds killed by cats may amount to 15 percent of the entire avian population, according to Pete Marra, an animal ecologist with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and co-author of the study.

The enormous numbers of birds killed by cats may amount to 15 percent of the entire avian population.

"A lot of these cats may go outside and go to 10 different houses, but they go back to their house and cuddle up on Mr. Smith's lap at night," Marra said. And the study estimated that each of those kitties kills up to 18 birds and 21 small mammals a year.

One argument put forward by cat people at home is that it's not their well-fed pets who are causing the damage but rather feral cats. Household pets, they say, have no need to kill small animals. This, however, is untrue: Household cats don't kill because they're starving; they kill because that's what they do.

Conversely, feral cat groups argue that ferals don't have the energy for recreational killing. This is also a fantasy. The new study indicates that feral cats are by far the bigger problem. The authors estimate that at any given time there are between 30 million and 80 million ferals in the United States, and that on average each of them kills between 23 and 46 birds a year, and between 129 and 338 small mammals.

Why would we be surprised by any of this? Wasn't it their hunting ability that led cats to become our best friends in the first place?

bastet-013013In Ancient Egypt, the domestication process began when humans fell in love with the fact that cats were protecting their grain stores from mice. Humans loved grain and cats loved mice. What better partnership could there be? Cats were promptly elevated to the status of goddesses, and for hundreds of years the Great Cat Goddess Bastet ruled supreme. At times, it was even a capital offence to kill a cat, even by accident.

In our own time, most of us who have ever let Fluffy outside have seen her return with little "gifts". (Yes, we like to think of her killer intentions as an act of loving kindness.) So we should hardly be surprised to know that when she's not gaining fame as a great pianist, Fluffy is out there watching for anything small that moves.

At around the same time that the new study was released, a prominent economist in New Zealand was pushing for draconian new measures to reduce the destruction of native wildlife by cats in his own country.

Gareth Morgan, who is also an environmentalist, calls cats "friendly neighborhood serial killers" when it comes to birds, and points to a study showing that they are already responsible for the extinction of nine native bird species. Another 33 bird species are now endangered. Morgan is pushing for draconian new measures to reduce the destruction of native wildlife by cats in New Zealand.

Morgan wants New Zealanders to gradually reduce the local feline population by having all cats neutered, and, when their pet cats die, to not replace them.

He also wants feral cats to be killed. But it's long been the experience of people working to reduce feral cat populations that killing cats does not reduce the problem since the remaining cats just breed more, and other feral cats move in from neighboring areas. The answer, they argue, is trap/neuter/return (TNR) programs that gradually reduce the numbers – in many cases to zero.

That's true where it's true. But Australia is a good example of a region where the arrival of cats on ships from Europe introduced an invasive species for which the native animals had no defenses. As a result, feral cats by the millions are now at large in wild areas ("the bush") and neither TNR nor figuring out ways of killing the cats is going to make a dent in what's happening.

The same is the case in New Zealand. And when Bob Kerridge, executive director of the Auckland SPCA, told the New York Times that we should "leave it to nature to take care of things," he was talking utter nonsense. When invasive species take over, this is hardly nature "taking care of things."

Of course, the truly problematic invasive species is not the cats. They, too, like the native wildlife, are simply the innocent victims of another species, humans, that has invaded every corner of the Earth, bringing danger, disease and destruction along for the ride.

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Currently, in Florida, we have another wildlife catastrophe on our hands. Tens of thousands of Burmese pythons (some say up to 180,000) are loose in the Everglades as a result of criminally irresponsible "pet owners" and former breeders dumping their unwanted "pets" out in the wild. Pythons grow very large – up to 17 feet long – and can swallow a deer for dinner. A female python can have up to a hundred eggs. Entire populations of rabbits and foxes have disappeared from the Everglades, and populations of raccoons, opossums and bobcats have dropped as much as 99 percent.

Entire populations of rabbits and foxes have disappeared from the Everglades, and raccoons, opossums and bobcats have dropped as much as 99 percent.

Earlier this month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched a hunting competition with prizes to people who can kill the most pythons.

But more killing is rarely, if ever, the solution to anything. And, frankly, we just don't have a good answer. If we don't kill the pythons, we're responsible for all the killing they do. If we do kill them, we're just killing more innocent creatures ourselves.

The same goes for the cats in New Zealand and Australia.

But it's not yet the same for the cats in the United States. Rather than tilting at windmills and skyscrapers, the animal protection world can take action to press in all directions for household cats to be contained indoors or in outdoor catteries or on leashes. That will resolve a large measure of the problem. And trap/neuter/return programs need to become embedded in city and county ordinances and in the culture of every neighborhood.

Of course, that's what cat protection groups have been saying all along, and it's still only slowly catching on. But at least, unlike with the pythons in the Everglades and the cats Downunder, we know what the answer is for the cats who are killing wildlife here in the U.S.

So, if we don't do what we know is right, it's not the cats who are the killers; it's us.

31 comments
Paula D'Arcy
Paula D'Arcy

I have 2 17 yr old girls & 3 young foster cats I limit their time outside (oldies like to stay in) after birds have fed am for a couple of hours & again maybe in the afternoon .. Never allowed to stay out at night. All happy & well. We're rural, I'm a Env Biologist they've taken mice but nothing else. It can be done!

Paula D'Arcy
Paula D'Arcy

I have 2 17 yr old girls & 3 young foster cats I limit their time outside (oldies like to stay in) after birds have fed am for a couple of hours & again maybe in the afternoon .. Never allowed to stay out at night. All happy & well. We're rural, I'm a Env Biologist they've taken mice but nothing else. It can be done!

Susana Molina
Susana Molina

Sorry, for a mistake i may have made, my first comment does not appear in the thread.

I said that i was very glad to find a critical analisys of this study about the impact of cats in wildlife; as far as it is very noticiable that it is so much strawed. Let´s think on the sentence highlited in this text: "The enormous numbers of birds killed by cats may amount to 15 percent of the entire avian population." Cats belong to a single species, and are charged of 15% of deaths of an entire animal Class the Aves, witth roughly 10000 species of birds -mammals ascend to less than 6000, by the way.

So, why do we accept these numbers so blindly, why are these studies so promoted in the media, well i guess it is because they are "popular" among birders groups that are very beligerant to stray cats, and also because -scientics are not going to love me very much- many scientifics have a strange way of accept studies, without analizing how they are made, and also only accept a new study as a valid argument against one older, not the simple facts, the elementary logic or even the knowledge of the nature of the cats, they all are not so effective hunters as the media portray them.

To me it is very important to test these studies and the way they are made.

 

Susana Molina
Susana Molina

Sorry, for a mistake i may have made, my first comment does not appear in the thread. I said that i was very glad to find a critical analisys of this study about the impact of cats in wildlife; as far as it is very noticiable that it is so much strawed. Let´s think on the sentence highlited in this text: "The enormous numbers of birds killed by cats may amount to 15 percent of the entire avian population." Cats belong to a single species, and are charged of 15% of deaths of an entire animal Class the Aves, witth roughly 10000 species of birds -mammals ascend to less than 6000, by the way. So, why do we accept these numbers so blindly, why are these studies so promoted in the media, well i guess it is because they are "popular" among birders groups that are very beligerant to stray cats, and also because -scientics are not going to love me very much- many scientifics have a strange way of accept studies, without analizing how they are made, and also only accept a new study as a valid argument against one older, not the simple facts, the elementary logic or even the knowledge of the nature of the cats, they all are not so effective hunters as the media portray them. To me it is very important to test these studies and the way they are made.

Susana Molina
Susana Molina

I have posted a comment before and i'm not able to see it published unless i log in livefyre again. I don´t know how this livefyre site works and if i have to change the settings of my acount in some way. Anyway it´s a relief to check my comment is still on the thread, although i can´t read it wihtout login in, as far im doing my best to write in english. Regards.

Susana Molina
Susana Molina

I have posted a comment before and i'm not able to see it published unless i log in livefyre again. I don´t know how this livefyre site works and if i have to change the settings of my acount in some way. Anyway it´s a relief to check my comment is still on the thread, although i can´t read it wihtout login in, as far im doing my best to write in english. Regards.

SiameseCatTwins4Ever
SiameseCatTwins4Ever

Blaming cats for going after birds or mice, etc. is like blaming us human animals for eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, playing, preying on others in one way or another, and having sex...it is what God made us to do.

 

Immature blame game tactics won't change God's will (or for atheists, Nature's Way).

 

 Dogs kill cats, squirrels, birds, mice, etc.

 

Humans kill cats, dogs, squirrels, birds, mice, etc.

 

The difference is that we human animals don't HAVE to chase after others, because having the skills of a predator is no longer necessary now that we can simply have a salad at Olive Garden.

 

 The biggest threat to animals, domesticated or wild (including birds) has been, still is, and unless we evolve, will remain the HUMAN ANIMAL SPECIES.

 

It is time that the cat hating freaks of the world stop hating, and start loving.

 

 Oh, and the man for whom the Audobon Society, a supposed "Bird Conservation" group, was named after? He had a hobby: Painting birds. Yeah, what Mr. Audobon, the bird lover that he was, would do, was KILL BIRDS, take their dead bodies back to his home, and paint pictures of them.

 

THAT is how much credibility the "Bird Conservationists" have (none). These frauds eat Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Pheasant, etc. and hunt birds, etc. all the while blaming cats for doing what cats were meant to do.

Humans dont HAVE to chase wildlife. God didnt make us that way. We CHOOSE to do so.

 

  And regarding the "Invasive Species" myth that some trumpet in order to excuse their murders of the innocent: We are ALL invasive species. NONE of us were here when the Earth was created. We all came, via one way or another, later. So, NONE of us are natural inhabitants, no matter where we live. However, our fellow Mammals were here for millions of years before us human animals, thus, if anyone is an invasive species, it's us. Nature has done just fine without us for millions of years. The notion that we humans must interfere to "balance" what we ourselves have caused an imbalance of, is an egotistical load of manure, used to serve our own agenda, whether it be hating cats, making money (which is what the U.S. Fish and Widllife Service exists to do) or hurting and or killing our fellow animals for profit.

 

  That someone has once again (unsuccesfully again) tried to turn cats into patsies, even though the human animal is the problem, is no surprise. That it has happened on a website that is supposed to be (and usually is) an advocacy site for earth and every precious living soul who has ever called earth home, including cats, is a disgrace.

 

 Prejudice has no place, whether it be directed towards cats, whites, blacks, dogs, bears, heterosexuals, homosexuals, and reporting what the prejudicial cat hating freaks have to say....well...you might as well report the current news on the KKK website blaming blacks for all that happens. It has as much credibility (none) and is based in the same ignorant intolerance that is the true predator, always trying to strike against every living soul.

 

 

 

SiameseCatTwins4Ever
SiameseCatTwins4Ever

Blaming cats for going after birds or mice, etc. is like blaming us human animals for eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, playing, preying on others in one way or another, and having sex...it is what God made us to do.   Immature blame game tactics won't change God's will (or for atheists, Nature's Way).    Dogs kill cats, squirrels, birds, mice, etc.   Humans kill cats, dogs, squirrels, birds, mice, etc.   The difference is that we human animals don't HAVE to chase after others, because having the skills of a predator is no longer necessary now that we can simply have a salad at Olive Garden.    The biggest threat to animals, domesticated or wild (including birds) has been, still is, and unless we evolve, will remain the HUMAN ANIMAL SPECIES.   It is time that the cat hating freaks of the world stop hating, and start loving.    Oh, and the man for whom the Audobon Society, a supposed "Bird Conservation" group, was named after? He had a hobby: Painting birds. Yeah, what Mr. Audobon, the bird lover that he was, would do, was KILL BIRDS, take their dead bodies back to his home, and paint pictures of them.   THAT is how much credibility the "Bird Conservationists" have (none). These frauds eat Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Pheasant, etc. and hunt birds, etc. all the while blaming cats for doing what cats were meant to do. Humans dont HAVE to chase wildlife. God didnt make us that way. We CHOOSE to do so.     And regarding the "Invasive Species" myth that some trumpet in order to excuse their murders of the innocent: We are ALL invasive species. NONE of us were here when the Earth was created. We all came, via one way or another, later. So, NONE of us are natural inhabitants, no matter where we live. However, our fellow Mammals were here for millions of years before us human animals, thus, if anyone is an invasive species, it's us. Nature has done just fine without us for millions of years. The notion that we humans must interfere to "balance" what we ourselves have caused an imbalance of, is an egotistical load of manure, used to serve our own agenda, whether it be hating cats, making money (which is what the U.S. Fish and Widllife Service exists to do) or hurting and or killing our fellow animals for profit.     That someone has once again (unsuccesfully again) tried to turn cats into patsies, even though the human animal is the problem, is no surprise. That it has happened on a website that is supposed to be (and usually is) an advocacy site for earth and every precious living soul who has ever called earth home, including cats, is a disgrace.    Prejudice has no place, whether it be directed towards cats, whites, blacks, dogs, bears, heterosexuals, homosexuals, and reporting what the prejudicial cat hating freaks have to say....well...you might as well report the current news on the KKK website blaming blacks for all that happens. It has as much credibility (none) and is based in the same ignorant intolerance that is the true predator, always trying to strike against every living soul.

LouiseHolton
LouiseHolton

You should also check out the Blog Vox Felina. Peter is very thorough and for many years has been analyzing these studies, and lists a lot of really good references. And Alley Cat Rescue as a lot on Cats and Predation on our website, and in our newsletters. Ellen Perry Berkeley is also a great resource and her book Maverick Cats 2nd Edition is an excellent resource on the topic. Also the Book I listed in my first response “The Domestic Cat” by Turner and Bateson has a whole chapter on Predation by world experts. Sadly the American Researchers have completely ignored this whole body of work, that shows an entirely different aspect of cats and predation. http://www.voxfelina.com/

LouiseHolton
LouiseHolton

For the past 15 years the American Bird Conservancy has been waging war on cats. They have been spreading deliberate myths and misinterpretations about feral cats and wildlife predation, as well as Zoonotic diseases. They use science that exaggerates the data; they then extrapolate the data from small studies across states and even countries. The Temple/ Wisconsin study was in a rural area and the figures were extrapolated across the state.  The Churcher study of 70 cats in a rural area brought about an outcry that cats were killing 100 million birds and small mammals in Britain each year.

Roger Tabor, British naturalist and biologist, says of the Churcher study: “It is not realistic to multiply the numbers of catches of these (70) rural cats by the entire cat population of Britain. Most cats are town cats with small ranges, and catch fewer items of prey than the village cats of this survey.  The mesmeric effect of big numbers seems to have stultified reason.”

Tabor goes on to say the survey found the house cat is a “significant predator” and not that it was devastating Britain’s bird population.  Although cats consumed a quarter of the town’s house sparrows each year, after each breeding season the sparrow population doubled.

The latest paper published by biologists at the Smithsonian and the U.S.D.A. is quite frankly more of the same. They are still citing the discredited researcher Nico Dauphine—convicted for trying to poison cats. After holding out for a while, eventually the Smithsonian was forced to fire her. Dauphine worked for Marra, one of the authors of this study.

This latest “study” as with all the others makes the cat out to be the sole culprit for bird and wildlife decline. Nothing is ever made of the primary cause of the decline of wildlife populations—habitat destruction—by humans.   

Peter Wolf noted: “These reports do nothing more than imply a causal link between predation by cats and declining bird species—providing nothing in the way of evidence. …even very high levels of mortality do not necessarily lead to population-level impacts. In a study published late last year, for example, conservation biologists Todd Arnold and Robert Zink found that, “although millions of North American birds are killed annually by collisions with manmade structures, this source of mortality has no discernible effect on populations.”

Researcher B.M. Fitzgerald says: “Any bird populations on the continents that could not withstand these levels of predation from cats and other predators would have disappeared long ago.(1)

In 2011 Laurie D. Goldstein noted:  

“The critical distinction between additive and compensatory predation is rarely considered in cat predation studies/estimates, yet there are several studies indicating that bird kills by cats are primarily compensatory.   

                Predation is generally understood to be an important selective force in evolution, and studies on predation of birds indicate evidence of natural selection at work.  In a large study of raptor predation on gulls, the study “unequivocally showed that age, muscle condition, and sickness were clues for differential predation by birds of prey.”24  Then there’s the research by Møller and Erritzøe (2000) that studied 18 species of passerine birds and domestic cat predators.  Their work found that disease and parasitism play a meaningful role in bird-related cat predation.  Finally, Baker et al. (2008) reported that “Across species, cat-killed birds were in significantly poorer condition than those killed following collisions; this is consistent with the notion that cat predation represents a compensatory rather than additive form of mortality.”25  In short, Pimentel et al.’s very assumption that cat predation in the United States implies a population decline in the bird population is flawed.”

(1)Fitzgerald, B.M. and Turner, D.C. 2000.  “Hunting Behaviour of domestic cats and their impact on prey populations,” in The Domestic Cat: The biology of its behaviour, D.C. Turner and P.P.G. Bateson, Editors.  Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, U.K.; New York. P. 170

LouiseHolton
LouiseHolton

For the past 15 years the American Bird Conservancy has been waging war on cats. They have been spreading deliberate myths and misinterpretations about feral cats and wildlife predation, as well as Zoonotic diseases. They use science that exaggerates the data; they then extrapolate the data from small studies across states and even countries. The Temple/ Wisconsin study was in a rural area and the figures were extrapolated across the state.  The Churcher study of 70 cats in a rural area brought about an outcry that cats were killing 100 million birds and small mammals in Britain each year. Roger Tabor, British naturalist and biologist, says of the Churcher study: “It is not realistic to multiply the numbers of catches of these (70) rural cats by the entire cat population of Britain. Most cats are town cats with small ranges, and catch fewer items of prey than the village cats of this survey.  The mesmeric effect of big numbers seems to have stultified reason.” Tabor goes on to say the survey found the house cat is a “significant predator” and not that it was devastating Britain’s bird population.  Although cats consumed a quarter of the town’s house sparrows each year, after each breeding season the sparrow population doubled. The latest paper published by biologists at the Smithsonian and the U.S.D.A. is quite frankly more of the same. They are still citing the discredited researcher Nico Dauphine—convicted for trying to poison cats. After holding out for a while, eventually the Smithsonian was forced to fire her. Dauphine worked for Marra, one of the authors of this study. This latest “study” as with all the others makes the cat out to be the sole culprit for bird and wildlife decline. Nothing is ever made of the primary cause of the decline of wildlife populations—habitat destruction—by humans.    Peter Wolf noted: “These reports do nothing more than imply a causal link between predation by cats and declining bird species—providing nothing in the way of evidence. …even very high levels of mortality do not necessarily lead to population-level impacts. In a study published late last year, for example, conservation biologists Todd Arnold and Robert Zink found that, “although millions of North American birds are killed annually by collisions with manmade structures, this source of mortality has no discernible effect on populations.” Researcher B.M. Fitzgerald says: “Any bird populations on the continents that could not withstand these levels of predation from cats and other predators would have disappeared long ago.(1) In 2011 Laurie D. Goldstein noted:   “The critical distinction between additive and compensatory predation is rarely considered in cat predation studies/estimates, yet there are several studies indicating that bird kills by cats are primarily compensatory.                    Predation is generally understood to be an important selective force in evolution, and studies on predation of birds indicate evidence of natural selection at work.  In a large study of raptor predation on gulls, the study “unequivocally showed that age, muscle condition, and sickness were clues for differential predation by birds of prey.”24  Then there’s the research by Møller and Erritzøe (2000) that studied 18 species of passerine birds and domestic cat predators.  Their work found that disease and parasitism play a meaningful role in bird-related cat predation.  Finally, Baker et al. (2008) reported that “Across species, cat-killed birds were in significantly poorer condition than those killed following collisions; this is consistent with the notion that cat predation represents a compensatory rather than additive form of mortality.”25  In short, Pimentel et al.’s very assumption that cat predation in the United States implies a population decline in the bird population is flawed.” (1)Fitzgerald, B.M. and Turner, D.C. 2000.  “Hunting Behaviour of domestic cats and their impact on prey populations,” in The Domestic Cat: The biology of its behaviour, D.C. Turner and P.P.G. Bateson, Editors.  Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, U.K.; New York. P. 170

Ellen Sharkey
Ellen Sharkey

I have 2 cats that go outside in the summer. Between the 2 of them, they catch about 3-4 birds a year. My windows here, however get about 10-12 a year. Run outside and try to revive them when I hear them hit! Sometimes they come back, most of the time, they don't.

Ellen Sharkey
Ellen Sharkey

I have 2 cats that go outside in the summer. Between the 2 of them, they catch about 3-4 birds a year. My windows here, however get about 10-12 a year. Run outside and try to revive them when I hear them hit! Sometimes they come back, most of the time, they don't.

Natalie Nelson
Natalie Nelson

It's also up to us to realize that we as humans are destroying hundreds of thousands of natural habitats forcing animals to survive with much, much less space.

Natalie Nelson
Natalie Nelson

It's also up to us to realize that we as humans are destroying hundreds of thousands of natural habitats forcing animals to survive with much, much less space.

ingridtaylar
ingridtaylar

Michael, I couldn't agree more about where the culpability lies: us. I often find myself straddling the bird protection and cat protection worlds, and I've faced down near assaults for defending one or the other. At our wildlife hospital, so many accessioned birds were cat-caught ... and the damage to the birds can be so wretched as to be irreparable. It's heartbreaking to witness, particularly when you consider how many are never so lucky to be brought in. Even a bird who manages to escape the maw but sustains a puncture wound, will easily die of infection if not treated with antibiotics. 

 

At the same time, I've had to engage people and groups who exhibit such hatred for cats and also for other "non-native" species, they have no problem exacting the most cruel forms of violence against them. Coyotes are one example of wildlife that's largely exempt from mercy.

 

With cats, I hope that there's push for this viable middle ground you discuss because that truly is the way. Cats must not be allowed to roam free -- for their sake and for the sake of wildlife. I grew up in a home where they did roam, as did many of us, but the jig is up, as it were, with respect to what we now know. I try to encourage people who want their cats outdoors, to build a great garden enclosure. So many examples exist, giving the cat the best of both worlds.

ingridtaylar
ingridtaylar

Michael, I couldn't agree more about where the culpability lies: us. I often find myself straddling the bird protection and cat protection worlds, and I've faced down near assaults for defending one or the other. At our wildlife hospital, so many accessioned birds were cat-caught ... and the damage to the birds can be so wretched as to be irreparable. It's heartbreaking to witness, particularly when you consider how many are never so lucky to be brought in. Even a bird who manages to escape the maw but sustains a puncture wound, will easily die of infection if not treated with antibiotics.    At the same time, I've had to engage people and groups who exhibit such hatred for cats and also for other "non-native" species, they have no problem exacting the most cruel forms of violence against them. Coyotes are one example of wildlife that's largely exempt from mercy.   With cats, I hope that there's push for this viable middle ground you discuss because that truly is the way. Cats must not be allowed to roam free -- for their sake and for the sake of wildlife. I grew up in a home where they did roam, as did many of us, but the jig is up, as it were, with respect to what we now know. I try to encourage people who want their cats outdoors, to build a great garden enclosure. So many examples exist, giving the cat the best of both worlds.

LouiseHolton
LouiseHolton

 @SiameseCatTwins4Ever Yes agreed...They fuss over cats and do not make much of the destruction done to wildlife by pesticides, pollution, hunting, windows, wind farms--- a lot of damage to birds and other wildlife. Plus we are cutting down the rainforests for cheap beef for hamburgers and other cheap meat. Just got this from Living Green Magazine:

"Our cattle and other farmed animals consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—which is more than the world’s population of 7 billion. Yet the animals can’t produce nearly enough meat, milk and eggs to feed everyone.

Meat-based diets require 10-20 times as much land as plant-based diets—and nearly half of the world’s grains & soybeans are fed to animals.

Although we make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume almost 25 percent of the world’s beef.

Deforestation and Pollution Fifty-five square feet of rainforest is destroyed for every quarter pound hamburger that comes from a cleared rainforest cattle farm.

In the past 20 years, Costa Rica (as well as most of Brazil) has lost the majority of its forests to beef cattle ranching. This slash and burn farming is believed to account for 50% of all rainforest destruction.

Animal waste and feed dump more pollutants into our waterways than all other human activities combined.

Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information & Policy Branch stated, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”

Over half of the water used in the United States goes to beef production.  It takes an average of 2500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of red meat.With the amount of water it takes to produce one pound of red meat, farmers can grow up to one hundred pounds of grain.One hundred pounds of grain can feed four people for a month."

They use one set of standards for cats, and then another set for humans, and let humans off the hook for destroying the planet and over-consumption.

LouiseHolton
LouiseHolton

@SiameseCatTwins4Ever Yes agreed...They fuss over cats and do not make much of the destruction done to wildlife by pesticides, pollution, hunting, windows, wind farms--- a lot of damage to birds and other wildlife. Plus we are cutting down the rainforests for cheap beef for hamburgers and other cheap meat. Just got this from Living Green Magazine: "Our cattle and other farmed animals consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—which is more than the world’s population of 7 billion. Yet the animals can’t produce nearly enough meat, milk and eggs to feed everyone. Meat-based diets require 10-20 times as much land as plant-based diets—and nearly half of the world’s grains & soybeans are fed to animals. Although we make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume almost 25 percent of the world’s beef. Deforestation and Pollution Fifty-five square feet of rainforest is destroyed for every quarter pound hamburger that comes from a cleared rainforest cattle farm. In the past 20 years, Costa Rica (as well as most of Brazil) has lost the majority of its forests to beef cattle ranching. This slash and burn farming is believed to account for 50% of all rainforest destruction. Animal waste and feed dump more pollutants into our waterways than all other human activities combined. Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information & Policy Branch stated, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.” Over half of the water used in the United States goes to beef production.  It takes an average of 2500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of red meat.With the amount of water it takes to produce one pound of red meat, farmers can grow up to one hundred pounds of grain.One hundred pounds of grain can feed four people for a month." They use one set of standards for cats, and then another set for humans, and let humans off the hook for destroying the planet and over-consumption.

Susana Molina
Susana Molina

 @LouiseHoltonSorry, for a mistake i may have made, my first comment does not appear in the thread.

I said that i was very glad to find a critical analisys of this study about the impact of cats in wildlife; as far as it is very noticiable that it is so much strawed. Let´s think on the sentence highlited in this text: "The enormous numbers of birds killed by cats may amount to 15 percent of the entire avian population." Cats belong to a single species, and are charged of 15% of deaths of an entire animal Class the Aves, witth roughly 10000 species of birds -mammals ascend to less than 6000, by the way.

So, why do we accept these numbers so blindly, why are these studies so promoted in the media, well i guess it is because they are "popular" among birders groups that are very beligerant to stray cats, and also because -scientics are not going to love me very much- many scientifics have a strange way of accept studies, without analizing how they are made, and also only accept a new study as a valid argument against one older, not the simple facts, the elementary logic or even the knowledge of the nature of the cats, they all are not so effective hunters as the media portray them.

To me it is very important to test these studies and the way they are made.

 

ingridtaylar
ingridtaylar

@LouiseHolton

Louise, thank you very much for this information. I wasn't aware of the links to Dauphine, etc. After posting my comment here, I spent some time looking looking into this some more, because I was skeptical about the hyperbolic nature of the conclusion from the study -- that cats are by far the biggest threat. Obviously, cats have "an" effect, more so in certain populations (e.g. vulnerable nesting colonies where predators have access), but when you consider all of the human assaults, I simply can't see that particular conclusion as viable. So the billions number was extrapolated from a very small sample?

 

As far as anthropogenic causes, there are window collisions (hundreds of millions of birds); utility wire electrocutions, hunting and pellet-gun shootings (untold numbers beyond the hundreds of millions  of "legal" reported); USDA Wildlife Services exterminations; automobiles; poison; plastics (entanglement, ingestion); traps (glue and others); agricultural extermination, and just pure human malice. The list goes on, and I've personally seen the effects on animals from every one of those categories.  What concerns me most, as I wrote below, is that both hunting and birding groups will use the information to vilify cats and TNR programs. I see it regularly in discussions at birding boards.

Susana Molina
Susana Molina

@LouiseHoltonSorry, for a mistake i may have made, my first comment does not appear in the thread. I said that i was very glad to find a critical analisys of this study about the impact of cats in wildlife; as far as it is very noticiable that it is so much strawed. Let´s think on the sentence highlited in this text: "The enormous numbers of birds killed by cats may amount to 15 percent of the entire avian population." Cats belong to a single species, and are charged of 15% of deaths of an entire animal Class the Aves, witth roughly 10000 species of birds -mammals ascend to less than 6000, by the way. So, why do we accept these numbers so blindly, why are these studies so promoted in the media, well i guess it is because they are "popular" among birders groups that are very beligerant to stray cats, and also because -scientics are not going to love me very much- many scientifics have a strange way of accept studies, without analizing how they are made, and also only accept a new study as a valid argument against one older, not the simple facts, the elementary logic or even the knowledge of the nature of the cats, they all are not so effective hunters as the media portray them. To me it is very important to test these studies and the way they are made.

Susana Molina
Susana Molina

@LouiseHolton I have found this comment extremely useful, because it is focused on the exagerations and misinterpretations of so many "scientific studies" that are used once and again in the media to portray cats a super-super predators. Exagerations are admited without a second think, in a totally anticientifical way, in fact here in the post it is highlighted that "The enormous numbers of birds killed by cats may amount to 15 percent of the entire avian population", have we thought about that, cats an only species is responsible of 15% of predation on an entire animal  Class, Avians?. It is clear that not, high numbers and extrapolations mesmerises us as you say. I write a not very spread blog (vadebichos.blogspot.com), but i like to use good material to write it, and i had already noticed the extraordinary exageration about the impact of outdoors cats in wildlife; and also that many of them use bad science, and don´t have in consideration that cats in cities can´t predate so hard as cats in the very country. But I didn´t have the facts you give, so I thank you very much. I ask your permiss to use this comment, literally,  and giving the link to your site, in my blog to discuss the way the conclussions about cats in wildlife. Regards   Susana

ingridtaylar
ingridtaylar

@LouiseHolton Louise, thank you very much for this information. I wasn't aware of the links to Dauphine, etc. After posting my comment here, I spent some time looking looking into this some more, because I was skeptical about the hyperbolic nature of the conclusion from the study -- that cats are by far the biggest threat. Obviously, cats have "an" effect, more so in certain populations (e.g. vulnerable nesting colonies where predators have access), but when you consider all of the human assaults, I simply can't see that particular conclusion as viable. So the billions number was extrapolated from a very small sample?   As far as anthropogenic causes, there are window collisions (hundreds of millions of birds); utility wire electrocutions, hunting and pellet-gun shootings (untold numbers beyond the hundreds of millions  of "legal" reported); USDA Wildlife Services exterminations; automobiles; poison; plastics (entanglement, ingestion); traps (glue and others); agricultural extermination, and just pure human malice. The list goes on, and I've personally seen the effects on animals from every one of those categories.  What concerns me most, as I wrote below, is that both hunting and birding groups will use the information to vilify cats and TNR programs. I see it regularly in discussions at birding boards.

LouiseHolton
LouiseHolton

 @ingridtaylar

 I have just written this for our newsletter. By the way I am the founder of Alley Cat Rescue and the past-President and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. So I have been figting this fight for a long time!

And also....I love all animals and birds...I have been a vegetarian and vegan since mid 1970-

Playing a Dangerous Game 

Over the past 2 decades, fortunately for feral cats, humane control for community cats instead of killing has become very popular. This has led some environmental groups to call for the eradication of outdoor cats. No solid specifics are given other than the cats can be trapped and taken to area shelters or to sanctuaries. We all know that if you take a feral cat to animal control agencies, they are deemed unadoptable and will get euthanized. And how many sanctuaries are needed to house millions of feral cats? You can probably not house more than 200 to 500 cats per sanctuary—I have visited a few of these. Most were very well run, but those had a lot of employees and volunteers and they had to fund raise to keep going.

 

There are several reasons why “killing/removing all cats” is not feasible. Nor is it in any way a wise move. 

(1)  Those who are trapping outdoor cats in great numbers are implementing humane control and will not support killing.

(2)  Government-run shelters do not have the resources to trap millions of cats—nor can they even realistically accept them for euthanasia.

(3)  Building “sanctuaries” for millions of feral cats is an enormous task, even if possible. Plus expensive. Who will pay for them to be built and who will run them?

(4)  And finally, removing all outdoor cats—a mesopredator and a highly specialized rodent hunter—would be an unimaginable disaster for the American environment.

 

Why I call this “A Dangerous Game”: 

One has only to look at the history of eradicating cats from small islands to see (1) it took many years (19 years in one case) (2) they had to use several methods of control including poisons, (3) after removing the cats the rodents and rabbits took over and destroyed the environment, putting at risk the very animals they were trying to “save” .

The anti-cat folks leave out this information when they suggest “getting rid of all cats.” The methods used to eliminate cats on islands are ones that will be quite unacceptable to the humane society in the United States. Terrestrial ecologist Dr Dana Bergstrom said of Macquarie Island that the program, while well-intentioned, resulted in widespread ecosystem devastation when cats were eradicated and rabbit numbers exploded.

At Alley Cat Rescue (ACR) this has always been our point. Using eradication programs is short-sighted and a quick-fix. It is NOT a long-term solution. A better way to control them is achieved through sterilizing the cats, stopping the breeding, and allowing for a slow attrition through natural causes, and allowing the prey animals to adjust.

website:www.saveacat.org

LouiseHolton
LouiseHolton

@ingridtaylar  I have just written this for our newsletter. By the way I am the founder of Alley Cat Rescue and the past-President and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. So I have been figting this fight for a long time! And also....I love all animals and birds...I have been a vegetarian and vegan since mid 1970- Playing a Dangerous Game  Over the past 2 decades, fortunately for feral cats, humane control for community cats instead of killing has become very popular. This has led some environmental groups to call for the eradication of outdoor cats. No solid specifics are given other than the cats can be trapped and taken to area shelters or to sanctuaries. We all know that if you take a feral cat to animal control agencies, they are deemed unadoptable and will get euthanized. And how many sanctuaries are needed to house millions of feral cats? You can probably not house more than 200 to 500 cats per sanctuary—I have visited a few of these. Most were very well run, but those had a lot of employees and volunteers and they had to fund raise to keep going.   There are several reasons why “killing/removing all cats” is not feasible. Nor is it in any way a wise move.  (1)  Those who are trapping outdoor cats in great numbers are implementing humane control and will not support killing. (2)  Government-run shelters do not have the resources to trap millions of cats—nor can they even realistically accept them for euthanasia. (3)  Building “sanctuaries” for millions of feral cats is an enormous task, even if possible. Plus expensive. Who will pay for them to be built and who will run them? (4)  And finally, removing all outdoor cats—a mesopredator and a highly specialized rodent hunter—would be an unimaginable disaster for the American environment.   Why I call this “A Dangerous Game”:  One has only to look at the history of eradicating cats from small islands to see (1) it took many years (19 years in one case) (2) they had to use several methods of control including poisons, (3) after removing the cats the rodents and rabbits took over and destroyed the environment, putting at risk the very animals they were trying to “save” . The anti-cat folks leave out this information when they suggest “getting rid of all cats.” The methods used to eliminate cats on islands are ones that will be quite unacceptable to the humane society in the United States. Terrestrial ecologist Dr Dana Bergstrom said of Macquarie Island that the program, while well-intentioned, resulted in widespread ecosystem devastation when cats were eradicated and rabbit numbers exploded. At Alley Cat Rescue (ACR) this has always been our point. Using eradication programs is short-sighted and a quick-fix. It is NOT a long-term solution. A better way to control them is achieved through sterilizing the cats, stopping the breeding, and allowing for a slow attrition through natural causes, and allowing the prey animals to adjust. website:www.saveacat.org

ingridtaylar
ingridtaylar

 @LouiseHolton Thanks, Louise. I will check it all out. I've posted a few counterpoints at some birding blogs I frequent because I see the fervor start to build and it tends to lead to some misguided resolutions, as you know. But -- I definitely need to be more informed on the aspects of this study. Much appreciated.

Michael Mountain
Michael Mountain

Louise, Your comments about possible exaggerations in the numbers are quite reasonable. The trouble is, we've all seen the issue of what's killing birds and other wildlife descend, over the years, into lots of fighting between bird groups and cat groups, and with each "side" blaming the other. The fact is, whatever the numbers quoted by each side, it's not a good situation. Certainly, killing cats is not the answer to anything. More killing is never the answer. But those of us who have cats at home need to understand the terrible damage we are doing when we let them roam at will. Otherwise we are no better than the people in Florida who have now caused ecological catastrophe by letting Burmese pythons loose in the Everglades ... or the people in, say, Australia who let their cats out into the "bush" and are consequently bringing about the demise of so much wildlife there. It's not too late to stop something similar happening in this country. But it does mean all of us bringing an end to the blame game and accepting the fact that we humans and our cats are two highly invasive species, and that we have to mitigate our impact on native wildlife. I understand the fear among cat protection groups that pointing a finger at cats will let loose the dogs of war, so to speak, among people who think the answer to any problem is to kill something. That is certainly a dilemma. But neither cats nor birds will be helped (nor the other small animals) while the debate continues to focus on which side is right or wrong. We all know the answers, and you are among those who have led the way in implementing them. Thanks for your comment.

ingridtaylar
ingridtaylar

@LouiseHolton Thanks, Louise. I will check it all out. I've posted a few counterpoints at some birding blogs I frequent because I see the fervor start to build and it tends to lead to some misguided resolutions, as you know. But -- I definitely need to be more informed on the aspects of this study. Much appreciated.