Animals killing other animals; is it really so unheard of? Let’s clear the fog and state the truth once and for all. Animals kill other animals for survival, it’s a primitive skill. Yes, cats hunt birds and rabbits. Birds hunt worms. It’s the circle of life. We are all just trying to survive. So then who are we, as humans, to say that a cats hunting days are over?
Cats are not the killing machines, they are carnivorous mammals. Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Fish and Wildlife Service estimate that U.S. cats kill a median of 2.4 billion birds a year. With an estimated 50 million stray and feral cats existing in the United States, bird enthusiasts are desperately trying to paint a portrait of terror in urging American’s to fear…cats? Should we really be scared of these adorable furry creatures?
Feral cats are different than domesticated cats. Feral cats are wild and cannot be touched by humans. They are no different than raccoons. TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programs, however, are combating the overpopulation of feral cats in a humane and kind manner. Through neutering feral cats and releasing them back to their colonies, populations of feral cats are decreasing through simple attrition as births cease to exist. Opponents of TNR argue that with cats being returned to their colonies, they continue to kill other wildlife. Feral cats are wild animals, they hunt to survive. As the colonies dwindle through attrition, the so called “killers” dwindle too. Simply killing a few feral cats won’t save the bird population, as the remaining un-neutered feral cats will continue to populate and the killing rates will only stand to rise. Indy Feral, a TNR program, shares on their website, “TNR is not only cost-effective and humane, but it is scientifically proven as the most effective means of controlling the free-roaming cat population.” TNR is endorsed and well-respected by countless animal advocate groups including the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). “The number one cause in the decline of bird and wildlife populations is the destruction of their habitat, pollution and pesticides. Government biologists and conservation groups estimate that TV and cell phone towers kill 4 to 50 million birds a year. Cats are rodent specialists and birds make up a tiny percentage of their diet. If cats were truly the ‘hunting machines’ they are often portrayed as- with the ability to wipe out an entire species- we would no longer have any mice around.”
Opponents of cats argue that shelter adoption rates need to be increased; certainly everyone can agree to that. Currently only 20% of owned cats were adopted from a shelter or rescue. By increasing this number (and by having pets spayed and neutered) we can save more lives. Instead of cramming feral cats and healthy, adoptable cats into gas boxes and sticking them with painful heart-sticks, shelter workers need to make an effort. Shelter workers need to follow the No Kill Equation which has been proven to dramatically increase adoption rates by employing educated and motivated leaders, implementing the use of volunteer foster homes, working together with local based no-kill rescue organizations, providing high-volume low-cost spay/neuter programs to the public and through having comprehensive adoption programs. Shelters shouldn’t carry all of the responsibility however, pet owners need to step up to the plate too. Pet owners need to be responsible pet owners, having their pets spayed/neutered and making a life-long commitment to their pets. February is spay and neuter month, countless programs are offering low cost options from coast to coast. Cats can live an average of 14 years, be sure that you are willing to commit to your pet through sickness and in health, prior to the adoption. When pet owners keep their commitment to their pets, shelters can focus instead on helping the 50 million stray and feral cats in need.
The AVMF estimates that as of 2012, 30.4% (36,117,000) of U.S. households own one or more cat. In addition to being part of our homes, cats assist senior citizens in nursing homes to combat the sting of loneliness. Cats assist humans of every age who struggle with the darkness of depression. By providing therapeutic services to special needs children, cats again are the heroes. We love cats so much that Monopoly recently announced the introduction of their newest board piece, the cat.
If conservationists want to kill cats in an attempt to stop cats from killing other wildlife, what will come next? Once they kill the cats, will they then kill the rabbits and the birds whose populations will inevitably skyrocket? Will we suddenly find ourselves living in a world where each species is contained in large caged areas, separate from all other life forms? Dr. Fenwick shared, “Any outdoor (feral cat) colonies that remain should be enclosed. Cats don’t need to wander hundreds of miles to be happy.” According to Dr. Fenwick, wildlife would be perfectly happy to live caged, outdoors, separate from all other life. Is this the world we want to live in? Let’s stop playing games. Are we going to let the only remaining cats be a board piece in Monopoly?
THIS ARTICLE IS IN REPLY TO THE NEW YORK TIMES 1/31/13 PUBLISHED ARTICLE HERE: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/science/that-cuddly-kitty-of-yours-is-a-killer.html?_r=0