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View Diary: New study: pooties kill billions of birds a year. Let's keep them indoors. (148 comments)

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  •  My barn cats (21+ / 0-)

    are catch-and-neuter feral cats who have been determined not to be suitable for indoor rehab.

    Yes, they do stalk and kill birds and mice and moles and voles and grasshoppers and moths and lizards, along with the occasional gopher and garter snake.

    They also fall prey to coyotes and raccoons and other predators.

    They do me the favor of keeping mice and rats out of my barn in return for a heat lamp and a bed of straw in cold weather.

    Rarely will they let me approach them or touch them, although I feed them every day, and provide shelter. There is a certain level of trust between us. I like having them around to keep me company.

    When I leave the house in the morning and go down to the barn to work, they meet me and we all go together.

    We are a community of sorts, I suppose.

    I love them for what they are.

    Alpacas spit if you piss them off. So don't do that.

    by alpaca farmer on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:44:40 PM PST

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    •  Rural areas (7+ / 0-)

      Feral cat colonies are at their most damaging in rural areas like farms because that is where the bird populations are largest.  There are much more environmentally friendly ways to keep mice under control (mousetraps?) than to support free-roaming cats.

      The next Noah will work a short shift. - Charles Bowden

      by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:15:44 PM PST

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      •  Cats are THE organic pest control (11+ / 0-)

        The cat/human thing started when humans started growing and storing food. Cats are part, an essential part, of a farm ecosystem.

        Where I live, the high desert of northeast NM, the habitat is vastly augmented by the large amount of water the humans spread around, habitat that wouldn't exist otherwise.  So birds thrive in the man-made habitat of an 8 mile long irrigation channel that isn't lined, and wherever that water is spread out.  Fortunate for the birds and other wildlife. Unfortunate that along with the humans who make this habitat come cats, and yes,  the slowest birds get caught, and birds move away from the immediate surroundings of the humans.

        Allowance has to be made for the farm context of cats, they are a natural part of the equation.

        Urban and suburban cat populations are a whole different circumstance and that's where this diary is directed, I would hope.

        don't always believe what you think

        by claude on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:42:52 PM PST

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        •  cats brought civilization (6+ / 0-)

          I herd this point made years ago and it has stuck with me. Dogs were good for humans when they were roaming and hunting. When people settled down and needed to store grain, the cats came along as pest control.

          Cats enabled cities.

 is America's Blog of Record

          by WI Deadhead on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:06:08 PM PST

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          •  Hmm (0+ / 0-)

            That's an interesting theory.  I guess the cats were just slacking on their jobs when that black plague thing (caused by fleas on rats) broke out.

            The next Noah will work a short shift. - Charles Bowden

            by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:23:37 PM PST

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            •  It didn't help (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              flowerfarmer, BlackSheep1, blukat

              that during the Middle Ages in Europe, cats were considered familiars to witches and agents of evil, and were shunned.

              Perfect conditions for plague ridden rats to infest towns and cities.

              It's about time I changed my signature.

              by Khun David on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:33:41 PM PST

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              •  Any proof for this theory? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                slapshoe, wader, badscience

                I'm an ecologist and into environmental history, and I've never heard of this in my life.  This is a pretty lame theory because civilization arose independently in several different parts of the world, and many of those places (like Central and South America) didn't have cats!

                So, I think it's pretty safe to say that cats are not a requirement for civilization.  If you think I'm wrong, I'd love to see a source or two.

                The next Noah will work a short shift. - Charles Bowden

                by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:41:31 PM PST

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                •  Fear of cats certainly worsened the plague (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BlackSheep1, blukat, wader, Khun David

                  I thought this was an accepted fact.  The connections between cats and rats and disease had not yet been made.  Superstition doomed humanity.

                  There are very few subjects which do not interest or fascinate me.

                  by NYFM on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:12:08 PM PST

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                •  High School history (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Khun David, flowerfarmer

                  is where I learned that. People were killing off the cats out of fear of witchcraft. This allowed the rat population to flourish and spread the plauge. It is considered an historical fact.

                  I would never keep my cat from going outside I consider it unnatural and cruel.

                  A bell will warn the birds but rodents don't seem to make the connection.

                  It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

                  by PSWaterspirit on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:15:39 PM PST

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                  •  it's also cruel & unnatural to expect a cat to (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    face down a semi-truck and come out on top. smartest cat my DH ever had couldn't manage it. Ave, Fafnir gereksbane!

                    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

                    by chimene on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:00:10 AM PST

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                    •  I live on 80 acres (0+ / 0-)

                      nearest pavement is over a mile away. Does't really apply here.

                       My cat likes to hang out with the chickens she lays in the sun while they scratch in the dirt around her. She seems to be an accepted member of the flock, so much so that they run to meet her when she comes outside in the morning.

                      I just trust my animals, I do not think of them as children but intelligent creatues who are probably my equal their intelligence has just evolved differently.  My animals have all lived a very very long time. My last cat was 20.

                      It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

                      by PSWaterspirit on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:58:12 AM PST

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        •  My cats killed rodents- (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blukat, skwimmer, RunawayRose

          packrats, hundreds of them when in Tucson. Not one bird.

          Those of us who have actually owned a good number of cats know the truth about their predatory habits and they are not reflected by the premise of this diary.

          In New England, my one hunter boy cat would kill one or two birds in the spring- the old, the very young or the slow - and the rest of his kill consisted of rodents- voles, pack rats, filed mice, chippies and a few squirrels. Lots of them, many dozen, and i know this because he brought them all in thru the cat door as trophies.

          Island cats are another story, where habitat is more vulnerable but other predatory species- mongoose, snakes, rats - are indicated.

          Cats have protected the grain stores of many aboriginal and modern civilizations and were rightly revered for their extraordinary skills.

          •  Very ignorant comment here (5+ / 0-)

            And your lack of caring about the environment shows.  All of those voles, mice, squirrels, etc. are native species and have a place in the ecosystem.  Your cat was not only killing wildlife but also driving off hawks, owls, foxes etc. by taking away their food.

            Even if you don't care about wildlife, good cat owners keep their cats indoors because indoor cats live longer and healthier lives.  Any vet will agree with me.  Bad cat owners let their cats run outside and then end up surprised when the cat doesn't come home some day.

            Be a good cat owner.  We don't need cats to protect our grain stores anymore.

            (And, PS, cats are implicated in lots of bird extinctions on islands.  Google the Kerguelen islands.)

            The next Noah will work a short shift. - Charles Bowden

            by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:31:22 PM PST

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        •  Some ecological ignorance here (6+ / 0-)

          I've lived in the high desert of AZ and studied birds there.  The vast majority of birds in the desert are desert birds that don't rely on water--they don't even drink water!  They get their water from insects they eat.  Read the NY Times article--the majority of birds killed by cats are native species, not human commensals.

          Also, birds don't always move away from areas with cats--that's why so many get killed.  Slowness has nothing to do with it.

          As for farms, cats on farms are no more "natural" than anything else on a farm, like cows (domesticated and largely incapable of surviving on their own) and corn and wheat (also domesticated and mostly incapable of surviving on their own).  If cats on farms only ate mice in barns, then they might not be a problem.  But cats roam all over the place and will spend much of their day hunting wildlife, on the farm or in the areas around it.

          The next Noah will work a short shift. - Charles Bowden

          by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:38:39 PM PST

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          •  HAhahahahahaha! OK, so go live naked in ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... a forest and eat only wild plants, and leave the rest of us alone to enjoy the benefits of civilization, starting with agriculture.

            Penn State - Rug too small, dirtpile too big, not enough brooms.

            by WereBear Walker on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:30:09 AM PST

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