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Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year.
I actually know the folks who did this study, and they are extremely sharp.  The methods they used were conservative.  Admittedly, only 30% of the birds are killed by oudoor pet cats--the rest are by ferals.  But that still adds up to nearly a billion birds.

Please keep your cats indoors, folks, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for posting this. (18+ / 0-)

    After the response here to the New Zealand story it seemed there was no room for pointing out that cats can do harm. I would further encourage people not to maintain the colonies of feral cats that exist some places.

    "Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous." -- Molly Ivins

    by dumpster on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:40:12 PM PST

    •  Don't they spay/neuter the ferals? (10+ / 0-)

      Making sure the colony is the last generation of ferals is a contribution.

      The impact of the cats is a mixed bag. In my wife's old neighborhood, animal control did a decisive sweep, all but wiped out the stray cat population, and in no time there was a terrible rat problem.

      •  Many studies have shown (8+ / 0-)

        that trap/neuter/release doesn't work because you only need a few breeders to keep a colony growing.

        Also, the study that I linked to showed pretty clearly that cats are mostly eating native animals, not introduced critters like rats.

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

        by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:30:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  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

        [ Parent ]

        •  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

          [ Parent ]

          •  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

            [ Parent ]

            •  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

              [ Parent ]

              •  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

                [ Parent ]

                •  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

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  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

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  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

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  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

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  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

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  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

                          [ Parent ]

            •  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

                [ Parent ]

            •  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

              [ Parent ]

              •  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

                [ Parent ]

    •  Feral colonies are a disaster. (9+ / 0-)

      I know this will upset some but its almost impossible to stay ahead of the reproductive capacity of feral cat even when the colony is small and isolated.  The ideal that one can keep a colony in check is a fantasy.

  •  Nothing worse than enjoying the birds only to (14+ / 0-)

    have a cat jump out from under a bush and snag one. I saw this happen a couple of years ago as I was watching a male bluebird help his mate build a nest. It happened so quickly there was nothing I could do to stop it. (It was the neighbors *&@#!!! cat)

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:40:22 PM PST

  •  I'm of two minds (8+ / 0-)

    One side of me is a hard hearted hunter who goes so far as to hunt predators to relieve pressure on ungulates. Feral cats don't even register on my sympathy meter.

    I like pets of all sorts, even though I have none. Two online friends on facebook actively work in cat rescue, one of them with feeding ferals. They are nice women whom I have tremendous respect for in other areas.

    Ne easy answers, but yes, I agree.

    You might take heat from this post.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:10:15 PM PST

  •  Pooties can go outdoors. Use a leash! We did this (21+ / 0-)

    ...with Percy T. Cat for 16 years. His side of the bargain was that he religiously used his cat box for nearly all of those 16 years. A "Grand Bargain." Where have I heard that phrase...

    We love our birds. So we leashed our cat. It's really simple. I would imbed a picture of Percy, but I can't figure out how to do it. Look, cats will be cats and birds will be birds.  A leash is the answer.

    Can't be bothered by a leash?

  •  I'm not arguing your point but the native fauna (15+ / 0-)

    like foxes, coyotes, snakes etc. that use to take care of rodents are not numerous around most urban suburban communities.

    Human's trash and waste are mouse and rat heaven.

    Domestic cats have largely taken the place of native rodent control animals.

    They do have their place.

    However, keeping your pet cat indoors keeps it from playing in traffic.

    My last 6 cats have been indoor pets.

  •  We are seeing continent-wide declines in native... (22+ / 0-)

    songbirds - especially among those that nest on the ground.  

    Birds are getting hammered by the double whammy of human-caused changes to their habitat and by increased predation from predators that thrive in human altered landscapes like raccoons, skunks, foxes, crows etc.  The added predation from feral and pet house cats adds to the problem and is especially insidious because cats are efficient predators and very common.  Our birds simply do not have the evolutionary legacies to enable them to thrive in the face of this level of predation.

    This may be a new study but its not unique.  Similar studies have occurred around the country.  Please keep cats indoors or on a leash.  

    •  I guess there are introduced bird species too that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldJackPine, Andrew F Cockburn

      are a problem, or some birds that have increased due to large scale agriculture like the geese.

      Geese are everywhere out here, wish there were a way to uhm,, you know, add them to the freezer.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:38:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most of our problem geese are natives (4+ / 0-)

        As I am sure you know, most of our problem geese are native Canada geese.  There are many races with varying levels of migratory behavior that make them somewhat difficult to manage through hunting.  Plus, they are not very palatable in my opinion.

        They thrive because the like short grass (lawns, golf courses, etc.).  There are pretty liberal goose hunting seasons in many areas but they tend to have limited impact on resident urban populations that are such a nuisance.

        Mute swans on the other hand are introduced - and yes they are a problem in many of our wetlands.

    •  I'm glad you mentioned human-caused changes (5+ / 0-)

      because I have to wonder how much of that decline is caused by pesticides, herbicides, air pollution, and other toxins in our environment. All of which is killing us, too. At the same time I don't deny the impacts of house cats on bird populations.

      My pootie is 100% indoors, for that and many other reasons - first of all because it was in her contract when I got her from the rescue agency. And it's much less stress on me, being the overprotective cat mom that i am.

      Too Much Month Sale at Jan4insight Handmade Gallery! 15%off scarves, jewelry, journals, and cool prints to dress up your walls!

      by jan4insight on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:33:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Does anyone here remember (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, BlackSheep1

      That Scott's bird seed was supposedly laced with a pesticide that was killing the songbirds? Humans are far more to blame for bird problems than cats.

  •  Sorry, no, I won't make my felines live an (8+ / 0-)

    'unnatural' life indoors. Which is why I installed cat-doors through my kitchen and mudroom, so that the cats may come and go at their leisure.

    I have acreage which fronts on a small ravine/canyon.

    Until I had these cats, my home was continually infested with rodents (mice and rats) during the fall and winter months.

    Yes, my cats occasionally kill and eat birds. Even though they don't need to, as I supply them with a good quality food that contains "taurine".

    However, the animals still have the natural inclination to kill and eat (the heads) of rodents and birds, because that's where Nature put the taurine the felines need.

    The next report I'll read in five or ten years is that there is an unexplained explosion of the bird populations in urban areas - and no one will know why....

    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

    by Angie in WA State on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:28:28 PM PST

    •  there's nothing natural about a domestic (8+ / 0-)

      cat.  its an artifact of human invention.  I guess if you're fine with people fucking up the environment, then I could see why you don't give a shit about this and why you put your narrow, short-sighted self-interest ahead of the earth.

      •  jesus, you inferred a whole lot from that one (10+ / 0-)


        How reasonable of you to determine how I think and act on a whole host of issues, from my comment about cats and taurine and rodents.


        "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

        by Angie in WA State on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:09:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, they are a product of co-evolution (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        flowerfarmer, BlackSheep1, blukat

        with us. Cats have provided a valuable service in disease reduction due to vermin removal. Helped us develop civilization actually. When the cats are eradicated, many other species increase their numbers, eat the bird eggs, hunt the birds, damage their part of the food web, etc. The actual situation is very biologically complex and merely eliminating feral cats will likely make things worse; something we humans seem to excel at doing lately.

        •  No. (7+ / 0-)

          Our native wildlife were doing quite alright until we got here with all attendant changes to the ecology including cats.  Feral cats are a disaster.  Ecologists have established this repeatedly.  The fact that you like cats (assuming you do) doesn't change this.

          We are here and it is incumbent upon us to manage our impacts.  Cats are part of that.

          •  Actually, I agree with you to a large extent. (3+ / 0-)

            It is primarily the human population that is the problem, the cats are attendant to us to a great extent. Their numbers would decline along with ours as would our respective impacts on the rest of the environment. As a zoologist and environmental scientist (and an owner of cats that don't get to go out unless I'm out there with them), I've pondered this for years. Ultimately, our human numbers and behavior are the problem. The cats are secondary; they just do what evolution has geared them to do. Supposedly, we can think and reason, but I'd still like to see proof of that.

            •  Then you'd agree that we should manage our impact (6+ / 0-)

              Songbird declines are reaching crisis levels, especially among ground nesters.  Being responsible with our pets and dealing humanely with feral (not naively supporting colonies) is one among many things that we can do.

              As a zoologist and environmental scientist, I suggest you read the scientific literature on cat impacts.

              •  Our songbird numbers dropped suddenly, (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                leu2500, OldJackPine, BlackSheep1

                About 3-4 years ago. This was very coincident with the scandal where Scott's songbird feed was supposedly found to be contaminated with a pesticide that was mortally toxic to the birds we were all feeding with it. Their feed even had the Audubon label on it. All I'm saying is that we shouldn't cast aspersions totally on the cats and let humans off the hook. Most environmental problems I've studied have had multiple sources that caused the problem(s).

                Having said that, I'm not in favor of killing the feral colonies but, rather, we should go all out neutering them so they can't reproduce so virulently into later generations.

                •  See comment below (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib, pdxteacher

                  Briefly, even if spaying/neutering worked in terms of preventing a colony from growing, you cannot begin to do it at a spatial scale large enough to offset the impacts to wildlife populations.  

                •  Why TNR? When every wildlife biologist I've ever (0+ / 0-)

                  read says it doesn't work?

                  How big is your personal carbon footprint?

                  by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:19:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It has worked greatly in our neighborhood (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ban nock

                    Perhaps they should try harder! Besides, what do you propose, obliteration of a species of mammals to save the feathered dinosaurs? I love birds too, but your alternatives are likely horrid. Do you want to be the one to kill the cats?

                    •  Its not "obliteration of a species of mammals"... (5+ / 0-)

                      ...its wildlife management.  

                      We have and entire Federal agency devoted to helping farmers ranchers, and others (you too if you're ever flown on a plane) cope with nuisance wildlife (pocket gophers, coyotes, starlings, Canada geese and deer at airports...).  Sometimes this involves euthanasia and the professionals work to do it as humanely as possible.  Many if not most of us would find the work distasteful but its necessary.

                      In the case of feral cats, I would recommend rescue for those that can be rescued, humane euthanasia where the problem is critical and rescue efforts are saturated, and prevention.

                      There is no conceivable way that the cat species will be eliminated.  And yes - I value our native animals over feral and introduced ones.

                    •  I don't think that management would even put a (0+ / 0-)

                      dent in overall cat populations.  Certainly keeping them inside would lengthen the lives of individuals. I like cats more than birds in a companionship kind of way and because I know them better, but I like birds in that they are wildlife, even though I know little about them.

                      I've killed wildlife for reasons other than to eat, rats, mice, coyotes, and I don't like it. If it were my job I could do it.

                      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

                      by ban nock on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:50:11 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Cats don't have lobbies. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            flowerfarmer, claude, Mgleaf

            Blaming cats for songbird declines while we continue to mess with the environment on every scale and bulldoze bird habitat is really unfair.

            Could it be that developers who destroy bird habitat, pesticide manufacturers and agribusiness that turn vast swathes of land into sterile hydroponic gardens with dirt and everybody making money from global climate weirding (which messes with food availability in migration paths) own more politicians than cats and their advocates?  

            "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

            by Yamaneko2 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:53:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sorry but every wildlife biologist in the (6+ / 0-)

          galaxy seems to be in agreement. Cats, and especially ferals, are damaging to wildlife. Our modern houses aren't subject to vermin.

          I too like cats, but ecologically they are without benefit.

          We have far greater issues to worry about than cats, but our inability to face up to the damage cats do is indicative of our inability to realistically deal with our own damage.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:46:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry, but I find this statement absurd: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            but ecologically they are without benefit
            Where the hell did you get your biology degree? Utter rubbish thing to say. Just as easy to say humans are without benefit, which is probably more accurate.
          •  Our modern houses (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MKinTN, RunawayRose

            ..are most certainly subject to vermin. Flies get in . Mice get in. Fucking termites eat our modern houses.

            That said, if pests that cats can deal with are the problem, indoor cats can catch the mice without needing to go out. My cats deal with flies efficiently. They refuse to go after the goddamn brown marmorated stink bugs that are currently plaguing me, unfortunately.

            Cogito, ergo Democrata.

            by Ahianne on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:20:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  "modern houses [not] subject to vermin." (0+ / 0-)

            HA-hahahahaha! Arrogant, privileged NONSENSE to assume that all homes were built in the last 10-15 years. And EVERY home is subject to vermin, you just don't see most of it.

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

            by WereBear Walker on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:41:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  So, domestic cats are what? Robots? (0+ / 0-)

        Modern HUMANS are not natural, the vast majority of us should be dead around 40 if things went "naturally."

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

        by WereBear Walker on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:36:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  head in the sand syndrome (6+ / 0-)

      Ah the irony, of rejecting an "unnatural" life for a domesticated pet.  When was domestication of wild animals "natural"?
      what an incredibly self-centered and scientifically ignorant response.  

      •  When was it not? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        janislav, flowerfarmer, denig

        We are part of the natural environment after all. As are cats. Were I you, I'd lay low on the claims that others are scientifically ignorant.

        •  he might have been laying it on strong but there (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is no wild variety of the domestic cat.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:49:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is no remaining wild variety (0+ / 0-)

            of the species Homo sapiens sapiens, or even our genus Homo either. So what? We co-evolved with cats and neither of us are what we once were. But we continue to be part of the natural environment. If we are to control their population numbers, we should start with controlling ours. Our numbers are the root of our largest problems.

            •  are we genetically different from humans of (0+ / 0-)

              ten thousand years ago? Aren't there human populations existing as hunter gatherers?

              How big is your personal carbon footprint?

              by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:22:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, we are somewhat different genetically, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ban nock, claude

                and likely extremely different with regard to gene expression, in fact some studies seem to indicate that we are evolving at an accelerated rate. To my knowledge, all H-Gs have now been exposed to modern technologies. Cats are still hunting naturally anyway; probably less changed than us, actually. My point is, we are the primary problem.

          •  Felis sylvestris? Felis libyca? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The domestic cat is believed to be derived from the North African wildcat, which may be a subspecies of the Eurasian wildcat. These cats are not extinct. It is argued by some biologists that the wild and domestic animals are still one species. I think the behavioral differences are enough to separate them, but I'm not a biologist.

            Cogito, ergo Democrata.

            by Ahianne on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:27:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  My cat (7+ / 0-)

      does more than small birds. He has brought home: A penguin. A camel. A lion. A unicorn. A dragon. And all sorts of stuffed dolls the neighbor's kids leave lying around.

      •  Is your cat an outdoor cat? (5+ / 0-)

        If so, than the odds are very high that it's killing wildlife even if it all it brings home is stuffed animals.  Cats don't bring all of their prey home with them.

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

        by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:18:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I finally have to ask... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          flowerfarmer, Scott in NAZ

          Are you a zoologist? What is your expertise in this area? I'm not being snarky, I truly don't know.

          •  PhD in Ecology, almost 20 years of studying birds (9+ / 0-)

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

            by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:42:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the response. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I'm a zoologist, chemist, and environmental scientist, but I haven't focused much on predator-prey interactions, more involved with contamination of the environment by chemicals, transport and fate, impacts on biota, etc.  I love the cats and the birds, but I think the primary problem is human population. Were our numbers reduced, the cat numbers would likely follow. My cats don't go out unless I'm out there keeping an eye on them and we've been very involved in neutering the ferals in the neighborhood; quite successfully so far and, hopefully, their numbers will drop.

              •  Please look into the population biology (4+ / 0-)

                I'm not trying to start a fight, believe me I'm not, but you likely are not seeing the full picture in your colony.  How do you know that there is no reproduction, immigration, or dispersal.  These are extremely difficult to quantify.  Professional biologists spend their careers trying to quantify these things at a population level for various species - and the routinely find that the reality doesn't match their anecdotal observations.

                TNR projects largely enable us to dupe ourselves into thinking we can solve the problem of ferals.  Even if it works for an isolated colony there's no way we could mount an effort large enough to offset the predation impacts at a scale that would be meaningful for bird populations.

                Besides, even a stable colony of feral is still having an impact.

              •  Hopefully but not likely (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badscience, pdxteacher

                Like I said elsewhere in this thread, the track record of trap-neuter is not good.  It only takes a few cats to escape neutering or new cats to immigrate to the area (and why not since there's free food!) for the population to keep growing.

                But, the bigger issue is that of course humans are the population.  We do all sorts of things that hurt birds.  But keeping cats inside would be one of the easiest and most effective things we could do to help birds.  The 2+ billion birds dead each year by cats is a large chunk of all birds in the US, and cats may be causing many species to decline.  

                Part of solving this problem will require that we stop letting feral cats continue to roam with our support.  Basically, maintaining the feral cat colony in your neighborhood is sentencing thousands of birds, small mammals, and reptiles (if you have them in your area) to death each year.  Is it really worth it to let a few cats run free?  

                The best thing for your neighborhood would be to bring the cats to shelters.  It would be better for the cats because feral cats are subject to all sorts of health problems like parasites, fights with other cats, and nasty interactions with other predators (I've seen what a raccoon can do to a cat).  Also, feral cats spread parasites that can actually infect people.  

                Glad to hear that your cats are indoors!

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

                by Scott in NAZ on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:35:12 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Pishaw. (0+ / 0-)

        When he brings home a panda, then we've got something.

        "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

        by kenlac on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:42:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I know you probably really want the best life (9+ / 0-)

      for your cats. And I also know that most pet owners these days look upon pets the way one would one's children.

      Have you ever considered making a roofed outdoor enclosure?

      Fun for kitty to go out and watch the wildlife, impossible to eat. Most animals that are killed aren't brought home. There are many small lizards, snakes, and bugs, all of them indigenous and a part of the biodiversity. I'm not saying your cat is going to cause some kind of species extinction but the affects of all of our pets add up.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:46:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Catios are wonderful. (4+ / 0-)

        I would love to make one, but don't have much yard space and do have very cold winters.

        My cat lives indoors and that's fine with me. I had to agree to it when I adopted him.

        There are lots of diseases and harm that can come to my cat if he were to live outside, and I don't want to expose him to that. If he died outside, I couldn't live with myself.

        And I don't want him hunting! Cats who consume poisoned prey don't survive that hunt. My most beloved childhood cat (from a less enlightened time) died that way and I still mourn 35 years later.

        Domestic cats for most people should not be "pest control." Clearly not in locale where the risk to endangered native fauna is so great, like NZ, Hawaii, and whatnot.

    •  You can do what you want (5+ / 0-)

      But bird populations are declining in a big way, and you are part of the problem.

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

      by Scott in NAZ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:17:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I guess if you want mice, moles, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mickT, psyched, ChemBob, flowerfarmer

    and rats then sure - let's keep all the cats indoors.

  •  Unfortunately (10+ / 0-)

    the worst damage is likely by down by people like the poster above who live in rural situations.  Cats probably eat lots of urban birds but the majority of those are abundant species that can withstand the predation.  The exception would be migrants who would be particularly vulnerable.

    Rural areas in much of North America contain fragments of of original habitat in a matrix of human modified land (farms, second growth forest, old fields, roadsides, etc.).  For example, studies have shown that woodland specialists have very low success rates breeding in small woodlots.  They are much more vulnerable to predators (such as feral cats) than they would be in extensive woodlands.

    "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge with hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

    by matching mole on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:01:59 PM PST

  •  We've got ferals in the neighborhood. (2+ / 0-)

    I found that at least one had been spending a lot of time in an old shed I've got.  Part of the wall had rotted away, there was cat crap all over inside, and the skeletal remains of at least one rabbit.  Probably explains why I never see rabbits around any more.

  •  We keep our cats inside and that was the agreement (3+ / 0-)

    from the local SPCA when we adopted them.

    I say hello to the ferals along the bluffs along the beach where I jog but I sure hope they're being spayed and neutered. Keep the cat population lower and you keep the bird kill number lower.

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:49:03 PM PST

  •  if we are concerned about declining wildlife (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChemBob, flowerfarmer

    the population that needs controlling is the human one.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:59:27 PM PST

  •  Although it may offend your cat's fashion sense (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sarge in Seattle

    let me recommend the "Cat Bib."

    Comes in five fetching colors.  My ancient cat can now enjoy her outdoor naps in the sun.  Found these at my local pet haberdashery.

  •  Does anyone know how to keep neighborhood (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VA Breeze

    pet cats out of one's yard? - humanely...besides trapping?

    I do love the quail families and some mornings in the spring I step outside to a blood and feather bath so to speak. The family that this cat belongs to are just not approachable anymore and the city said I could trap the cat on my property and take it to our Humane Society but if my neighbors found out I was the person who trapped it, well .....

    So, is there some commercial chemical sold at PetSmart that would keep the cat away but be OK with the quail?

    "Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall" - President Obama, January 20, 2013

    by savano66 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:22:20 PM PST

  •  I got some of my very rare hrs when posting (0+ / 0-)

    a diary similar to this one. They waited for an excuse and did it as a small group.

    You are certainly educated, and it's an important issue, but watch your stuff. Night time is also difficult, for birds and Kossacks.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:02:51 PM PST

  •  We saved a lot of the bird population by adopting (6+ / 0-)

    Cappy and keeping him indoors.

    Captain Fingers is a polydactyl ginger-and-white. He was a stray, having once been adopted (according to shelter and microchip records) and then abandoned. He's very friendly and outgoing, and survived by making himself at home in any of a dozen or so apartments. Although many kind suckers cat-lovers fed him, none would take him in permanently, so he supplemented his diet with birds. In fact, his front teeth are so worn from stripping the feathers from birds that the vet said he'd have starved to death in a few months if we hadn't taken him in. His teeth are worn down almost to the gums and he'd have trouble stripping bird feathers now.

    We often joke about how we saved about 1/3 of the birds in our coastal town, but his teeth say that he really did eat a lot of birds!

    Keeping cats indoors not only saves birds, it also saves cats. Although they're not immune from all diseases, they're less likely to come down with an infectious disease if they're not exposed to other cats, not to mention the raccoons, opossums, and skunks in the area. They're also protected from predators (red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and some fairly large owls). They're safe from wackos who poison cats, cars, various toxins found on road surfaces and in garden pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers, and many other sources of harm.

    We keep cat trees in front of windows, so there's plenty of BirdTV, but we never have to worry about waking up to find a decapitated bird on the pillow :-P

    In addition, cats kept indoors live longer:

    the average lifespan of a free-roaming cat is less than 3 years, whereas the lifespan of an indoor cat averages 15 to 18 years.
    Yes, there are many good reasons to keep cats indoors.

    I'm a Democrat - I believe that government has a positive role to play in the lives of ordinary people.

    by 1BQ on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:15:54 PM PST

    •  Yes! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      1BQ, pdxteacher

      The point about indoor cats living longer is a great one.  Any vet will tell you to keep your cats inside.  People who let their pet cats roam outside aren't just condoning the killing of birds and small mammals, but they're irresponsible pet owners, too!

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

      by Scott in NAZ on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:42:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  All 5 of our indoor cats are feral rescues (5+ / 0-)

    Two were adult/adolescent rescues, the others were kittens.

    One of them likes to occasionally dash out the sliding glass door into the backyard, and then proceeds to roll around on the cement patio before we go scoop him up. The others show absolutely no interest in going outside.

    Put up some cat trees, have some cat toys, play with your cats. Their lives will be fulfilling and much safer than letting them 'play' outside.

  •  The entire population of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scott in NAZ

    flying squirrels on the farm was nearly wiped out by my crazy cat neighbor lady's fucking cats.
    After not seeing one for over 8 years, saw one 2 years ago, none since. Used to see them 4-5 times/week.
    The feral in the hay shed finally died. My dogs are keeping most of the cats away now. Hopefully, there are still enough of them around to come back to a healthy population.

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:45:34 PM PST

  •  Keep the cats inside (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scott in NAZ

    they are a menace to wildlife.

    The sun's not yellow, it's chicken. B. Dylan

    by bgblcklab1 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:19:45 PM PST

  •  The NY Times leading paragraph is idiotic (4+ / 0-)
    cats are far deadlier than anyone realized.
    Really? Cat's are the ultimate mammalian killing machine. Their whole evolutionary strategy is based on that. That's why they are strict carnivores: they gave up the ability to get nourishment from anything but meat in order to have smaller stomachs in exchange for greater speed.

    Yes, cats are "cuddly", as the always well informed Times notes, but the only reasons they don't kill you when they get mad at you is (1) because they are so well armed, they appear to have evolved a very good ability to control their impulses; (2) you are much bigger than they are.

    •  Yeah, I laughed at that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      janislav, Alexandre

      This wasn't news to me.

      I grew up with an indoor/outdoor cat that used to leave dead bats on the porch. Sharing the leftovers ...

      Amazing hunters us felines.  

      “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

      by Marko the Werelynx on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:46:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Too late to tip you, Marko, but I DO have ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... a batch of choco-chip cookies, pre-bitten for your convenience. Have one?


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

        by WereBear Walker on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:54:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And too late to tip you (0+ / 0-)

          but I do dearly love, and have missed terribly, pre-bitten cookies. Thank you! and may marshmallow peeps guide your path through the forest.

          “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

          by Marko the Werelynx on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 07:21:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      janislav, Alexandre, pdxteacher

      what the Times was saying was that previous estimates for the number of small animals killed by cats in the US were way, way lower than the new study.

      But, yes, you have to be pretty clueless to not realize that cats will kill anything that moves.

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

      by Scott in NAZ on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:39:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In a word? No. (0+ / 0-)

    Several years ago,  I allowed some well-meaning but naive friends convince me that the "right" thing to do with my two new kittens was to keep  them indoors. As the lovable hellions began destroying my house, those same friends "helpfully" suggested having my cats declawed,  which I did reluctantly,  while drawing the line at front claws only.

    When they began chewing up expensive electronics & climbing bookcases with only their hind claws,  I'd had enough,  and found them a good home out in the country. I  stayed in touch with their new owner for a while,  and she told me how much better behaved they were because they got lots of outdoor time and enough exercise.

    Lesson learned.

    Keeping cats indoors is in the same ball park as industrial egg production - cruel & unnatural. Yes,  they kill birds, that's their nature, so put a bell on 'em! And of course,  spay/neuter.

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

    by WereBear Walker on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:59:48 PM PST

    •  Good cat owners keep their cats inside (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldJackPine, pdxteacher

      because outdoor cats get in fights, get parasites, get run over by cars, get attacked by larger predators, and kill wildlife.  Ask your vet--outdoor cats live shorter and less healthy lives.  Responsible cat owners do the right thing and keep the cats inside.

      Millions of Americans have indoor cats.  Maybe you just need to learn to be a better cat owner instead of letting your cats kill the neighborhood wildlife.

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

      by Scott in NAZ on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:38:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fights, parasites, cars, blah, blah, blah. (0+ / 0-)

        Heard it all before, romanticized nonsense. Neutering reduces fights,  proper medication prevents parasites, cars are a risk to EVERY creature. As for predator / prey, that is the nature of Life.

        Plus,  I'd much rather have a psychologically sound indoor-outdoor cat that lived a shorter life than one of those neurotic pseudo-feline messes that are the result of overprotective, helicopter pet owners.

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

        by WereBear Walker on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:04:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  get a persian..... (0+ / 0-)

    mine seem unable to catch slow bugs, or maybe they're just not interested. I occasionally throw them outside for some sunshine when it is mild.

  •  If folks want effective, fuzzy rodent control (6+ / 0-)

    on a farm -- perhaps try a terrier.

    Best ratters in the business.

    I'm a bit stunned by the folks here that claim that they have to leave their pets to roam around the neighborhood. Would anybody condone this sort of behavior for dogs? I put out food for my local feral dog pack ... What the --?

    Oh, I see-- feral dogs might hunt people. Cats would never eat people-- would they? Ah, the human-centric world view wins again. Ta' heck with anything small enough for a cat to take down.

    I've shared my home with all sorts of beasties. And I had dogs that caught everything but the birds that wandered into the backyard. I had a cat that caught bats when we let her out to roam at night (she later became strictly a house cat). If my dogs had been better at climbing fences I suppose they might have eaten my neighbors. There was a small couple next door that they might easily have mistaken for rabbits. There is wild in all animals and we need to recognize it and respect it. If we're going to keep pets we are ultimately responsible for ALL that they do. Every turd on the sidewalk, every child bitten, every critter killed when our well-fed fluffies go out to play.

    Poor kitty stuck inside? Collar, leash. Go take kitty for a walk. Doggie leash laws help keep the brutes from chewing off our faces. Why is it so hard to imagine putting a leash on a pootie to save the faces of billions of creatures that evolved in a land without people that raised these fluffy "killing machines" for companionship.

    Yes, enough Daily Kos-- go take kitty for a walk. Now, if I could just find my collar and leash ... I could use some fresh air.

    “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

    by Marko the Werelynx on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:38:16 AM PST

  •  What percentage of the bird population? (0+ / 0-)

    Your stats indicate an impressive number of birds are killed by cats, but what is the impact on the overall population?  Does anyone have a statistic on how many vulnerable-sized birds are in the U.S. at any time?

    There is a benefit in keeping the rat population under control in my rural neighborhood.  Rats are intelligent and aggressive about their needs.  I don't use poison and traps are only marginally effective.  There are approximately 3 neutered outdoor hunter cats for every 20 acres here, and about one feed storage structure for every 5 acres. Without the cat deterrent, each barn would eventually house 30 or more Norway rats, and the population would be pressed into the human dwellings.  No thanks.

    There are other situations that threaten wildlife in more dire ways, such as uncontrolled deforestation, climate change and runaway development.  Let's put some effort into solving human population growth every day.

  •  That study is crap (0+ / 0-)

    And here is why:

    Mankind is not likely to salvage civilization unless he can evolve a system of good and evil which is independent of heaven and hell. - George Orwell

    by Phil N DeBlanc on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:59:47 PM PST

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