Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | January 31, 2013

Free-Ranging Cats Caused or Contributed to the Extinction of 33 Bird Species

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The post below has been one of the most viewed posts on this blog. It arouses anger in many people who love cats, and it is important to state that the report quoted by the BBC below has been critiqued. The BBC article stated that cats ‘have been blamed for the global extinction of 33 species.’ But the article they were reporting on actually stated: ‘‘Domestic cats (Felis catus) are predators that humans have introduced globally and that have been listed among the 100 worst non-native invasive species in the world. Free-ranging cats on islands have caused or contributed to 33 (14%) of the modern bird, mammal and reptile extinctions recorded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.’
You can find the list here: http://www.iucnredlist.org/

To see the other side of the argument, look at:

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds  ‘Are Cats Causing Bird Declines?’
An article by Dr Laurie Huston on this question

To see a site that proposes banning cats in New Zealand to protect its wildlife see CatsToGo

From the BBC:

Cats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, killing billions of animals each year, a study suggests.

The authors estimate they are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.

Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists said stray and feral cats were the worst offenders.

However, they added that pet cats also played a role and that owners should do more to reduce their impact.

The authors concluded that more animals are dying at the claws of cats in the United States than in road accidents, collisions with buildings or poisonings.

The domestic cat’s killer instinct has been well documented on many islands around the world.

Felines accompanying their human companions have gone on to prey on the local wildlife, and they have been blamed for the global extinction of 33 species.

Read more


Responses

  1. I dont believe this..I think its made up to draw away attention from the real killers..

    • It’s claimed that cats are responsible for the extinction of 33 species. O.K.. Which 33 species have become extinct do to feline predation? I’m asking this at risk of sounding foolish, because maybe the answer is right before my eyes, but I’m not seeing it. I’m not seeing any info on which species are being discussed here. Could someone point it out to me, please? If the 33 extinct species are cited in this article then I appoligize and would appreciate anyone’s help. If there is no mention of which 33 species have completely dissapeared from the planet all together, and I’m not just googly-eyed, then this whole article rubs me wrong. You can’t just say that 33 species are extinct and then not give me an itemized list of the unfortunate creatures who bid us farewell. That is bad reporting. It is unscientific and flat out irresponsible. I ask the author or anyone else, please, either point to where it says which species are extinct, or amend this article with such information. Other than that, this article’s credibility is too deficient to be worthy of argument.

      • Hi! SEE http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/outdoor-cats-are-prolific-killers-study-finds

        Cat owners often wonder about their pets’ secret outdoor lives, but few are curious enough to actually follow them around the neighborhood. And thanks to a new study by the University of Georgia and National Geographic, that isn’t necessary: Researchers attached video cameras to 60 house cats that are allowed outside, hoping to learn how free-roaming felines spend their free time.

        The answer? About a third of pet cats kill time by killing wildlife.

        That may not surprise cat owners who regularly find tiny corpses on their doorsteps, but the study suggests house cats kill even more prolifically than many people realize. The researchers found the cats that killed did so about 2.1 times every week they spent outside, but brought home fewer than 25 percent of their kills. That could mean U.S. cats kill more than the previous estimate of 1 billion native birds and other animals every year — possibly as many as 4 billion.

        “The results were certainly surprising, if not startling,” says UGA researcher and lead author Kerrie Anne Loyd. “In Athens-Clarke County, we found that about 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful in capturing and killing prey, and that those cats averaged about one kill for every 17 hours outdoors, or 2.1 kills per week. It was also surprising to learn that cats only brought 23 percent of their kills back to a residence.”

        Working with National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department, Loyd and her colleagues attached lightweight video cameras (known as Crittercams, or “KittyCams” in this case) to 60 outdoor house cats in Athens, Ga. The cats’ owners volunteered for the study by answering ads in local newspapers, and downloaded footage from the cameras at the end of each recording day. The study extended through all four seasons, and Loyd says the cats averaged five to six hours outside daily.

        The cats killed a wide range of wild animals, including lizards, voles, chipmunks, birds, frogs and snakes (see the graph below). The study didn’t include feral cats, but previous research suggests ownerless felines are at least as deadly as their more coddled cousins. A 2010 study by the University of Nebraska, for example, found that feral cats have driven 33 bird species to extinction worldwide, and that they prey more on native than non-native wildlife. In fact, since domesticated cats aren’t native to North America, this leads some wildlife advocates to consider cats an invasive species themselves, on par with kudzu or Asian carp.

        “If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds,” says George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, in a press release about the study. “Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline.”

        “I think it will be impossible to deny the ongoing slaughter of wildlife by outdoor cats given the videotape documentation and the scientific credibility that this study brings,” adds Michael Hutchins, executive director and CEO of the Wildlife Society. “There is a huge environmental price that we are paying every single day that we turn our backs on our native wildlife in favor of protecting non-native predatory cats at all costs, while ignoring the inconvenient truth about the mortality they inflict.”

        http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/outdoor-cats-are-prolific-killers-study-finds

      • This is silly! Do you admit that millions of birds are killed by cats?

      • HERE’S A BOGUS STUDY ABOUT CATS DEBUNKED. THIS IS FROM THE ALLEY CATS ORGANIZATION. AND, YES, THE SMITHSONIAN ADMITS THEY MESSAGED THEIR DATA FOR THE PRESS!

        “The press release circulated by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo further exaggerates and misconstrues the study’s findings, dramatically painting cats as the major threat to birds by stating that of the birds studied “almost half of the deaths were connected to domestic cats”—specifically, 47%. However, a quick look at the numbers shows this figure to be greatly manipulated:

        Of the 69 birds studied, 42 died during the study. Only six of those deaths can be directly attributed to cats through observation.
        The authors guessed that another three bird deaths could be attributed to cats based on circumstantial evidence.
        The authors inflate the figure to 47% by focusing the discussion only on the number of birds that died due to predators, not the total number of birds in the study. They ignore the 27 birds that did not die, as well as the nine birds that died due to causes other than predation, and the 14 birds that died due to unknown predators. This leaves 19 birds that were killed by known predators.
        The number of deaths attributable to cats is 9 birds out of 69—or 13%—not 47%.
        But when taken as a percentage of all of the deaths from known predators, (9 out of 19) the number of birds killed by cats inflates to 47%—hyping cats’ impact on bird populations way out of proportion.
        Statistics are a powerful persuasive tool because people often take them at face value, but numbers can be manipulated too. The omission of 50 birds—well more than half the sample size—in calculating this figure dramatically changes the conclusions of the study.

        As the researchers themselves note, they also failed to examine whether the few deaths attributed to cats were additive—more birds dying than normal—or compensatory—consistent with the normal mortality rate for this species. Considering data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which shows the Maryland catbird population to be on the rise, the former seems unlikely. Cats specialize in hunting rodents; also, studies have confirmed that the birds who are caught are generally weaker animals who are not likely to have survived.

        Humans are the True Threat to Birds

        When rationally viewed, the Smithsonian study and the resulting press flurry has added nothing to the overall conversation about how to protect animals. Instead, it has only drawn attention away from the real threat to birds—people.”

        THE ONLY BIRD SPECIES THAT HAVE REACHED EXTINCTION IN NORTH AMERICAS HAVE DONE SO BECAUSE OF HUMANS–NOT CATS!!!

      • Good point Eric and Mike!!!

        Faulty, biased studies with greatly massaged data!

        The only bird species that have become extinct in North America since the Europeans arrived have resulted from industrial development or humans using them for food (the passenger pigeon) or for decoration (Carolina parakeet).

        Currently, thousands of birds are being killed throughout Europe and North Africa during their migrations. The birds are either shot for sport or caught in nets for food. These killings occur at points where the birds stop to feed and rest. They are at their most vulnerable. Over time, many species could be totally wiped out. This is REAL extinction potential.

    • In New Zealand cats caused the extinction of South Island Piopio, Chatham Island bellbird, Chatham Island fernbird,Bush Wren, Lyall’s Wren, North Island Snipe, South Island Snipe, Forbe’s Snipe, Macquarie Island rail,Huttons rail and NZ Quail. Two species in Australia ,some in Fiji, and many more in Hawaii

  2. No to defend cats necessarily, but the article is silent regarding how many of the birds and small mammals killed by cats were destined to not survive anyway due to disease, injury and old age. Surely, at least some of the ‘depredation’ by cats could be considered ‘culling’, similar to the culling of elk and bison by wolves in Yellowstone Park, for example. I’ve noticed that healthy birds are pretty aware and agile when cats are around.

    • You are totally right, Martin. Birds alert all the creatures in the forest about danger–including the cats! Birds are the first line of defense for all animals. Moreover, birds are extremely intelligent. They are territorial. They know when a predator enters their territory and is “on the hunt.”

      The only birds at risk are unhealthy birds and possibly fledglings that may be vulnerable to ALL predators for a brief period in their development. Humans and other birds (now where is that study!!!) are the greatest threat to birds. Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, for example, feed each of their fledglings dozens of songbirds before they leave the nest.

      Some cats may be good jumpers, but until they sprout wings a healthy bird has the advantage.

  3. Irresponsible stewardship of family animals has a lot to do with this. First, it is essential to spay and neuter to limit overpopulation. Second, you don’t just let them go free. We went to considerable trouble and expense to erect a PVC fence that the cats can’t climb and get out of, and I check frequently to make sure there’s no place they can dig under it. We don’t have a death-magnet bird or squirrel feeder in our yard. Care CAN be taken, and the public education can be done.

    • So great to hear about your fence. I have had to build a netting top to my fence to keep my neighbours cats out, they soil my carefully prepared soil whenever they can. Why should I have to clean up after some elses pet. Most cat owners are lazy, they want a pet they don’t have to walk or clean up after. Thank you for setting a good standard, i wish all cat owners were like you. They also scare the birds away.

  4. Given that there are about 6 billion humans, most consuming about a small
    animal weekly or perhaps a little longer, The amount of animals consumed is nothing less than phenomenal by comparison! Cats however don’t really have a choice, Its in their genes. the real question is: is it also in ours?

    • it may well be in their genes. I have always struck a bargain with my cats, I will provide food….they leave birds alone. I share bird watching with my current cat….as I have done with others, and always share that they are here to eat the seed we share, and on and on, whatever, so understanding and my one rule for cat is affirmed …Actually it is training, you start at the beginning with new resident cat….Now I needn’t have to tell her. However, I have also been in a country or rural setting….which makes a difference I am sure. Lots of other hunting options.

  5. This story seems to be doing the rounds, over here in NZ we have a multimillionaire encouraging people to kill cats due to their supposed decimation of birds/wildlife. No mention of the effects of the removal of hedgerows, use of pesticides, mega-farming practices, road building urbanization etc, etc…..just blame the cats

    • Come on, don’t be childish about this. There are thousands fighting the things you mention that destroy wildlife. And if cat owners are not able to take responsibility, those same folks may start on the cats that do so much harm.

  6. It seems there is a way of life….starting with insects…the predator way….I believe it is the way on earth. Blaming one mammal just doesn’t make sense. Dogs eat smaller mammals, cats eat rats, moles, voles, and mice besides a few sick birds. Crows eat rabbits, mice…etc. Hawks eat the same mammals as cats do! We could go on, this is the way of life on our planet. Get over it. At least cats don’t leave droppings all over the place!

    • my neighbours cats have made my enjoyment of gardening very difficult, they shit in my garden at any given opportunity ruining my carefully prepared soil and it stinks. why should i have to clean up after their pets, it’s disgusting.

      • Being a gardener, I would think you’d just have to accept the inconvenience of cat excrement. Also, that’s only one of a dozen or so types of poop found in your garden. If you can’t get past the undesirable doo doo, then perhaps a different past will better suit you, like crocodile wrestling or checkers.

  7. The problem with cats, compared to other meat eaters, is that cats hunt and kill for the sake of killing. Not just as entertainment, though a hunting cat is ecstatic in the hunt, but because we domesticated them to remove small grain eaters from our crop silos and small pest carriers from our homes. We have systemically built nature out of our lives with chemical and technological methods to the point where there is no role for cats other than as companion, but that doesn’t change the nature we built into them. And it *is* a problem. To argue that cats are a problem not worth solving because they are merely one problem among many is a call to inaction, to apathy, to waiting for someone else to fix the world. Yes, they are a complex problem with no one-size-fits-all solution, and also a single part of a complex bigger problem with several fuzzy-logically-interlaced parts, but when has Nature and our reconstruction of it ever been otherwise?

    • Thank you Tiki – when I posted that I was aware that I might upset cat lovers. And in fact I love cats too. We used to have cats, but when the last of them were gone, boy did we notice a difference in the bird life in the garden!

    • I understand that you must feel helpless about the real “complex” threat to wildlife–humans! Yes, cats ALSO need to be protected from the humans that have domesticated them. They need to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and provided with food, shelter, and water. TNR (Trap,Neuter, Vaccinate) is the ONLY proven way to humanely control cat populations. Fortunately, this is a growing movement throughout the world. And the number of cats as pets continues to grow making them the #1 pet on this side of the pond.

  8. Man is blamed for the extinction of thousands of species – and one should think,too, of the attenuation of violence which cats do effect really. On the whole, before saying this or that. Judgement is not allowed to those who do not know how to stop themselves!

    Gesendet: Donnerstag, 31. Januar 2013 um 14:03 Uhr Von: "Philip Carr-Gomm’s Weblog" <comment-reply@wordpress.com> An: e.edelsbrunner@gmx.net Betreff: [New post] Cats Blamed for the Extinction of 33 Species

    Philip Carr-Gomm posted: "From the BBC: Cats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, killing billions of animals each year, a study suggests. The authors estimate they are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually. "

  9. Sorry but, in my opinion, these are totally bogus statistics and completely contrived. I’m surprised to see it posted here on your blog. Not the sort of responsible information I would have expected. It’s well-known that certain “bird” groups in the US have been fabricating data that is anti-cat. In fact, they have been mounting a big money campaign against cats. Fortunately, groups that advocate for cat welfare such as Alley Cat Allies (alleycat.org) have been working tirelessly to correct the information coming out of this negative and biased campaign.

    On a personal level, I have seen countless predatory birds–the red-tailed hawk being one of the worst offenders–killing song birds. (I do love hawks and birds, as well) The hawks are so aggressive it’s a wonder there are any other birds left. And, of course, they also hunt small and medium sized mammals. I also believe that it is well documented that humans have and still are killing off more species–including bird varieties– than any other creature on earth. (Development, environmental chemicals, etc.)So let’s please not spread any more nasty rumors about cats.

    • Hi Nancy – This article comes from the BBC which exerts very high standards of reporting, and it is based on a scientific study, whose abstract reads:
      “Anthropogenic threats, such as collisions with man-made structures, vehicles, poisoning and predation by domestic pets, combine to kill billions of wildlife annually. Free-ranging domestic cats have been introduced globally and have contributed to multiple wildlife extinctions on islands. The magnitude of mortality they cause in mainland areas remains speculative, with large-scale estimates based on non-systematic analyses and little consideration of scientific data. Here we conduct a systematic review and quantitatively estimate mortality caused by cats in the United States. 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. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact.” (see http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n1/full/ncomms2380.html)
      So I wouldn’t say citing this is equivalent to ‘spreading nasty rumours’ would you? See Tiki Swain’s comment on this thread for a balanced take on this.

      • Phillip,
        I believe that you have stepped into a political controversy that has been raging between bird advocates and cat advocates for years. The story goes much deeper than you would have your readers believe. Simply posting sensational stats is, in my opinion, spreading rumors. The study you quote is a lot more complex than what you represent here. Cats sell news too, so I’m sure the BBC didn’t mind that, but it’s not responsible journalism. What is worse, it does nothing to address the real issues which involve both feline and bird welfare. Sorry, but I think it’s incendiary and not responsible blogging. I’m guessing that most of your readers are interested in the welfare of both species. Ultimately, we all know this is a human caused problem, so why not address what people might do to work toward a solution?

        For further reading of several articles pertaining to this subject I suggest you go to:
        http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=1443

        This may help you to better understand the politics of what’s going on.

      • It’s claimed that cats are responsible for the extinction of 33 species. O.K.. Which 33 species have become extinct do to feline predation? I’m asking this at risk of sounding foolish, because maybe the answer is right before my eyes, but I’m not seeing it. I’m not seeing any info on which species are being discussed here. Could someone point it out to me, please? If the 33 extinct species are cited in this article then I appoligize and would appreciate anyone’s help. If there is no mention of which 33 species have completely dissapeared from the planet all together, and I’m not just googly-eyed, then this whole article rubs me wrong. You can’t just say that 33 species are extinct and then not give me an itemized list of the unfortunate creatures who bid us farewell. That is bad reporting. It is unscientific and flat out irresponsible. I ask the author or anyone else, please, either point to where it says which species are extinct, or amend this article with such information. Other than that, this article’s credibility is too deficient to be worthy of argument.

        My reply: i Eric I posted an answer earlier when you posted the first time.To get the listing you have to pay to view the article online. My post quoted the BBC but if you google the 33 species issue it’s all over the place. It seems it is 33 species of birds.For $4.95 the original article presumably lists them. But see for instance Wikipedia: A recent study by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute suggests that cats are the top threat to US wildlife as they were found to be responsible for the deaths of up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals annually, with feral and stray cats being the worst offenders.[3] These figures were much higher than previous studies suggested as they found cats had killed more than four times the number of birds as had been previously estimated. In the US, the American Robin along with shrews, voles, mice, squirrels and rabbits were most at risk from cat predation.[3]

        The impact of domestic cats on wildlife is a century-old debate between passionate cat lovers and those of conservation and scientific beliefs. In a 1916 report for the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture titled The Domestic Cat: Bird Killer, Mouser and Destroyer of Wildlife, noted ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush stated in the preface:

        Questions regarding the value or inutility of the domestic cat, and problems connected with limiting its more or less unwelcome outdoor activities, are causing much dissension. The discussion has reached an acute stage. Medical men, game protectors and bird lovers call on legislators to enact restrictive laws. Then ardent cat lovers rouse themselves for combat. In the excitement of partisanship many loose and ill-considered statements are made.[13]

        The report cited Extinct Birds, published in 1905 by zoologist Walter Rothschild, who stated, “man and his satellites, cats, rats, dogs, and pigs are the worst and in fact the only important agents of destruction of the native avifaunas wherever they go.”[14] Rothschild gave several examples of cats causing the extermination of some bird species on islands.

        Some farmers and gamekeepers see feral cats as vermin. Feral cats catch and eat ground-nesting birds such as pheasants and partridge. To protect their birds, some gamekeepers set traps and shoot feral cats as part of pest control.[citation needed]

        Cats are the sole threat to some bird species, such as Townsend’s Shearwater, Socorro Dove, and the Marquesan Ground Dove,[15] or the cause of outright extinction in other cases, notably the Stephens Island Wren.

    • You’re a selfish idiot, aren’t you!

  10. Thanks Nancy – I can see that this subject (like so many!) is more complex than at first appears. My personal experience is that we had cats for many years, but when the last one died, the change in the garden was astonishing. Suddenly there was birdsong and all sorts of birds started arriving. But I appreciate this issue requires a balanced approach….

    • Philip. Well, that’s about the biggest non-answer I’ve ever seen. The link you gave me did not list the 33 species that are extinct, and on top of it, you tell me that I can pay about five bucks to see an article that may or may not include a list of animals that are extinct. Bogus. So far, I haven’t found anyone who knows which 33 animals no longer exist on this planet because of cat predation. You can’t just go running around saying that 33 animals are extinct without being able to say who. Not you or anyone. If you can’t say who is missing, then you cannot successfully argue your side.

      • Hi Eric,
        I went to check the article – prepared to think the BBC had misquoted and would pay 5 bucks to find out. The price had gone up to 32$! However a friend subscribes to this foremost scientific journal (Nature) and sent me the article. Here is where it cites the 33 species, at the opening of the paper: ‘Domestic cats (Felis catus) are predators that humans have introduced globally
        and that have been listed among the 100 worst non-native invasive species in the world. Free-ranging cats on islands have caused or contributed to 33 (14%) of the modern bird, mammal and reptile extinctions recorded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.’
        You can find the list here: http://www.iucnredlist.org/

        Note the report says ’caused or contributed to’… whereas the BBC report I quoted changed that to ‘blamed’. So thank you for taking us to this point. I’ll amend my post. However, as my friend who sent the article who was Vice-Dean at UCL in London, writes: “the point that cats kill millions upon millions of birds every year, and have been responsible for some extinctions, is beyond argument – it is simply a fact. A fact backed by data from so many researchers, governmental organisations, and wildlife charities, as to require a total suspension of intellect in order to deny it.”

  11. Humankind is overwhelmingly the cause of bird decline. Search the term “windows kill birds”; those shiny, reflective office buildings kill thousands of birds a year because they fly into them.

  12. I reckon Philip that by no longer having cats, you have barred what is now a normal part of your biocommunity. (in Pommie-land!) Maybe all that bird song is a sign of imbalance. Here in Australia there’s generally raging vitriol about cats, even in our massively urbanised cities, where they impact in useful ways upon any number of other introduced species, even in the country they also play a complex role in normal predating, where local predators are displaced, by introduced species, habitat loss, hunting & exclusion(dingo proof fence). introduced predators are just one part of significant impact upon available prey species & competing predators, but are genarall blamed for all of it, as it takes the heat off our own behaviours.
    The situation really is complex, & ultimately subject to nature’s own ‘abhorrence of a vacuum’.

  13. I have a bell on my cat’s collar and he’s never been able to catch a bird (and we have a LOT of them in my yard, I feed them throughout the winter). My cat catches mice and got a mole once, but never a bird. Bells work quite well, IMHO.

    • Thanks for being responsible. Some of the other selfish reactions on here are very sad, and put their pets in danger. For some lonely/disabled/old’ens the garden birds are often all they have.

  14. More foxes? The outdoor and feral cats in my neighborhood are balanced by the foxes that wander over from a nearby lake park. We don’t let our cats wander freely, but would greatly miss the rodent control (among other things) if we did not have them.

  15. That’s it my cats are grounded!

  16. John James Audubon (Jean-Jacques Audubon) (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. His color-plate book entitled “The Birds of America” (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. It includes 497 species of birds–including 25 new species. SINCE the publication of Audubon’s book in the 19th century, 5 species have become extinct in North America. ALL FIVE have died off as the result of HUMAN ignorance, stupidity, and greed. NONE BECAUSE OF CATS!!! These include the following birds: The Heath Hen, the Carolina Parakeet, the Passenger Pigeon, the Labrador Duck, and the Great Auk–and more are on the brink of extinction…

    The “study” you have cited in your original post has come under scrutiny regarding their “statistics”, and they have admitted to errors in their sampling. Cats that were abandoned by humans and left to fend for themselves on small islands have likely damaged bird populations. (Sailors took cats on ships for mice control and then abandoned them on islands.) This is a VERY specific situation, yet the “study” in question obfuscates this fact. Since cats do not swim–nor fly–they had to eat whatever they could find on these remote outposts to survive.

    Please use your intelligence and stop with spreading inaccuracies. Granted, this seems to be one of the most popular posts on your blog but you need to be more responsible and amend your original post. Stop using sensationalism to muster-up comments

    • And yet the University of Georgia study that found cats responsible for BILLIONS of dead birds neither tracked cats on islands, nor followed feral cats. There wasn’t any “error” in their samples. You can see some of the videos of them killing birds on the web site.

      Note also that the estimate of the number of birds slaughtered by cats increases with each study. That’s because the methods are getting better. At first the studies only looked at dead animals that cats brought home. But now, they hang cameras on the cats and watch them for weeks. They can see everything the cat is doing… and what they’re doing is killing, and killing and killing.

      I support extermination of all feral cats. They are to land what Lion fish are to the East Coast of the USA.

  17. Hi Nancy,
    I’m afraid I agree with Tiki Swain above, who is a zoologist, when she says: “The problem with cats, compared to other meat eaters, is that cats hunt and kill for the sake of killing. Not just as entertainment, though a hunting cat is ecstatic in the hunt, but because we domesticated them to remove small grain eaters from our crop silos and small pest carriers from our homes. We have systemically built nature out of our lives with chemical and technological methods to the point where there is no role for cats other than as companion, but that doesn’t change the nature we built into them. And it *is* a problem. To argue that cats are a problem not worth solving because they are merely one problem among many is a call to inaction, to apathy, to waiting for someone else to fix the world. Yes, they are a complex problem with no one-size-fits-all solution, and also a single part of a complex bigger problem with several fuzzy-logically-interlaced parts, but when has Nature and our reconstruction of it ever been otherwise?”
    Every day I see the result of our garden not having our cats in it and it is quite extraordinary. HOWEVER – we now have mice and even rats sometimes and so it’s not an easy question as Tiki says. But I take your point and I have changed the post to add balance and give other vewpoints.

  18. You’ll just need to have a cat outside enclosures to promote or provide safety to you and to your cats

  19. Kill ‘em. The numbers in the report are conservative. The University of Georgia is about to do a study on feral cats. When those numbers come out, I expect them to significantly increase the carnage estimates. The methodology is hard to argue with: Put a camera on a cat, let it do it’s thing and then retrieve the video and see what the cat did. In the study of HOUSE cats, they found the average killer cat made two kills a week – half of all kills for fun. My bet is that feral cats kill more… a LOT more.

    The solution is to put a bounty on cats. If you don’t want your cat shot, keep it indoors. Nobody has any quarrels with “indoor” cats. Once they go outdoors, they should be fair game… and anyone who shoots them should be rewarded.

    The bleeding heart female groups (have you noticed that all the people who abandon reason and have great affection for this affliction are women?) who TNR think they’re accomplishing something. They’re not doing a damned thing except wasting time and money. There are something like 80 million cats in this Country. About 3/4 of them are feral. The TNR types brag about TNRing “100,000 cats”. HA! That’s hardly even round-off error! What we need is an open season on outdoor cats – $10 a head bounty, no limit, and the season is year-round. When all the outdoor cats are dead, and cat owners learn to control their cats as dog owners have always had to control their dogs, then we’ll hear song birds again. (Have you noticed how few birds there are? Cats… must… die.)

    • Hi, bit harsh on women there, but agree on the cat thoughts. I am a keen city gardener and my neighbours cats have made my ‘growing life’ very difficult, soiling my plot at any given opportunity. I’ve had to build a netting top for the fence to stop them at my own expense. My neighbours should be doing this. The bird seed is sprouting in the net because they are still afraid to come in and feed. I am in favour of culling and owners taking control/responsibility more. Gina.

    • Totally agree with you and I’m a woman. Why not let the cats loose in the cities and get rid of the pigeon population? I can barely go out of my house without getting “plopped” on.
      Just capturing feral cats and spaying and neutering then letting them go isn’t a solution.
      I’ve had enough of the cats sitting on my car top(convertible, classic sportscar-canvas top)) just so they can get to the birds in the trees. Next one I see, I’m borrowing the neighbors’ Airedale to get the cat!

    • You lost my interest by being misogynist.

  20. COME INTO ANIMAL PRESENCE
    by Denise Levertov

    Come into animal presence

    No man is so guileless as
the serpent.
    The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
    
twitching its ears at the rain.

    The llama intricately
    
folding its hind legs to be seated
    
not disdains but mildly

    disregards human approval.

    What joy when the insouciant

    armadillo glances at us and doesn’t

    quicken his trotting

    across the track and into the palm brush.

    What is this joy? That no animal

    falters, but knows what it must do?

    That the snake has no blemish,

    that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings

    in white star-silence? The llama

    rests in dignity, the armadillo

    has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.

    Those who were sacred have remained so,

    holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence

    of bronze, only the sight that saw it

    faltered and turned from it.

    An old joy returns in holy presence.

    “Come into animal presence” by Denise Levertov, from Poems: 1960-1967. © New Directions, 1983.

  21. I love cats – I have two. Cats kill, it’s in their nature, and therein lies the keyword: nature.
    Neutering is not natural. Owner responsibility is not natural. If cats are killing off species of small mammals or birds that’s natural.

    What ISN’T natural is the destruction, by humans, of habitats, reducing the numbers of wildlife to a level where they are in danger. Man has unbalanced the natural world, and is, ultimately, responsible.

  22. Thanks for that Paul but the numbers are not natural, cat numbers are way out of balance. Also, you feeding them cat food is not natural or looking after them. We live on a crowded island, owner responsiblity is of paramount importance, I expect you take them to the vet when needed.

  23. It is so good to see this discussed. I am a city gardener, who has had to complain to neighbours about their cats, something many feel they are not entitled to do, i had mixed responses!. If my neighbours dog or child came into my garden and left shit everywhere it would be seen as unacceptable. ditto frightening away or even killing the birds, so why should their cats be able to do it. I have had to build a netting extension to the top of the garden fence at my own painful expense (I have a bad back) just so that I can try to feed the birds, who are still afraid to stay in my yard for long, and to care for my soil without having to wear gloves. Domesticated cats are not natural, and even if they were, they exist in numbers that are way out of proprtion to anything even approaching a ‘natural’ balance. Like Philip, once the netting was erected, I saw a huge increase in the no. of birds willing to visit my garden. Also, I have a theory that alot of people like cats because they are easier to look after than, say, dogs. Cats don’t need walking, and their poor, long suffering neighbours have to clean up the stinking disease spreading shit. I don’t want other peoples pets in my garden. It is also worth saying that, yes, other pets eat animals but usually domesticated herd animals (cows, pigs, horses etc), none of which are endangered. Cats are killing wildlife that we can ill afford to loose. I know many people love their cats, i think of isolated old people for example, but surely some legislation around compulsory wearing of collars and bells, and bringing in the need for enclosures in back gardens to keep the responsiblity of care totally with the owners, plus culling of feral cats, would all go some way to giving vulnerable wild species a sporting chance.

  24. During the middle ages cats were killed because of their connection with the devil. The consequence was a proliferation of rats and the subsequent BLACKPLAGUE. Sureyou want to go there?

    • Times have changed. Cats are not keeping the rat population down in major cities. Sanitation is much better now! Cats are spreading a disease that is killing otters. Cat leukemia is very similar to the AIDS virus. Who knows if it’s entirely species specific? Isn’t there a horrid disease that effects unborn children if their pregnant mom cleans the litter box?

  25. Sorry, “massaged”

  26. There’s no need to intellectualise a simple issue. Domestic cats kill birds. Arguing over numbers is a distraction. Whatever the true amount (in millions, probably billions) it is causing real changes to a species survival chances. Cat-lovers need to take responsibility or others start doing it for you.

  27. Incredible, Nancy, Eric and co.
    In trying to suggest a university study has misrepresented the situation, you have indulged in blatant lies and absolute misrepresentation. The study by an American university covers all countries and is available for inspection. I’m sure it has been reviewed by many academics and administrators. Your deliberate attempts to lessen the reality of bird killing is like climate change and holocaust denial. It is so provoking, that I want to get rid of the next cat I see. Your nonsense is so counter productive, you’d be better saying nowt. Think it through – denial solved nothing!

  28. Thanks Mike. I really wish cat owners would take responsibility and not think that their little darlings couldn’t possible do anything destructive. Most surveys are a bit overblown; but, feral cats are a huge problem with their waste and killing. I have set up a humane trap and taken photos of the cats destroying my car top. I don’t feel like paying a hefty car insurance premium just because people can’t control their cats. The feral cat population needs to be zero, in my opinion.


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