By Michele C. Hollow, editor of Pet News and Views
The Wildlife Society states that outdoor cats kill wildlife. Yes, that’s true. Cats are hunters. Even well fed cats have been known to hunt.
Several veterinarians and wildlife experts that I talk to have been telling me for a long time about the dangers feral cats have on wildlife. As a cat lover, I honestly didn’t want to hear it. But I decided to present their side in this post. Tomorrow there will be a follow up from Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends Animal Society.
“Allowing free-ranging pet and feral cats to roam outside, breed unchecked, kill native wildlife, and spread disease is a crime against nature,” says Michael Hutchins, executive director/CEO of The Wildlife Society (TWS), North America’s scientific organization for professionals in wildlife management and conservation.
In The Wildlife Professional, TWS’ magazine, are several articles about the negative impact outdoor cats have on wildlife, habitats, and human and animal health. Here are some of their findings:
1. By some estimates, outdoor cats in the U.S. kill more than one million birds every day on average. Some studies put the death toll as high as one billion birds per year. Other studies suggest that cats kill more than twice as many rodents, reptiles, and other small animals.
2. The number of free-roaming cats is on the rise, now between 117 and 157 million in the U.S. While cat numbers are rising, nearly one-third of the more than 800 species of birds in the U.S. are endangered, threatened, or in significant decline.
According to TWS, Trap Neuter Release (TNR) is not the answer. Most animal welfare organizations encourage TNR, where cats are trapped, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and returned to the colony. Proponents of TNR claim that this approach will eventually reduce the numbers of unclaimed outdoor cats (more on this in tomorrow’s post).
The Wildlife Society sees it differently. They believe that TNR colonies are dumping grounds for unwanted pets.
“I totally understand the passion that cats inspire,” says Lisa Moore, spokesperson for TWS. “They’re wonderful pets. So I understand why it’s so difficult for some people to endorse any form of removal of feral cats from the environment, especially if that removal involves euthanizing unadoptable cats.”
“I wish all those cats could be safely trapped, neutered, vaccinated, and placed in loving homes. However, it’s clear to me that that is not possible. After learning more about this issue from the scientists who wrote articles for The Wildlife Professional, I’ve also come to understand what devastating consequences cats can have on wildlife, habitat, and human and animal health. It therefore seems inhumane for both the cats and the wildlife to allow cats to live outdoors where they are free to prey on wildlife.”
“It also seems ironic that we spend many millions of dollars every year to protect wildlife, habitats, and at-risk species, and then turn around and allow cat colonies to exist in the open,” continues Moore. “This just doesn’t make sense to me, and it seems to violate the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.”
“There is no perfect answer. But, in my view, the best answer is to encourage cat owners to keep their beloved pets safely indoors, to support legislation (such as leash laws for dogs) that requires pet owners to keep their cats indoors or to allow them outdoors only in enclosed catteries, and to phase out TNR cat colonies, which can become magnets for unwanted pet cats and which send the message that it’s OK to allow large congregations of cats to range freely outside and kill wildlife.”
I don’t think TNR sends a message that it’s OK to allow large congregations of cats to range freely outside and kill wildlife. When I see cat colonies my heart goes out to the cats who live outdoors. I think of my pampered cat who has a good life. I am a proponent of TNR. It is the only humane solution to a problem that was started by humans.
To be honest, I wasn’t going to post this viewpoint. However, I wanted to hear your thoughts on this topic. I hope you will read Wednesday’s post, which supports TNR. Thanks!
And on Another (Musical) Note
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