Thursday, 7 June 2018

Cat Carnage

     Cats, both domestic and feral, kill up to 3.7 billion birds per year in the United States alone, to say nothing of more than 20 billion mammals. (Nature Communications)



     Clearly, cats are the leading human-linked cause of death for birds and mammals. Factors such as collisions with buildings, wind turbines and pesticide poisoning pale by comparison.
     Feral cats are a huge threat to birds and they are present only because humans tire of their pets and release them into the wild, where they become extremely efficient killers. Generally cats thus treated live a short, miserable life, but they at least eat the birds that they kill.



     Well fed domestic cats still hunt birds and it is not hunger that motivates them. They kill out of some latent blood lust but rarely eat their prey. Often the bird dies an awful, prolonged death suffering greatly as the cat repeatedly releases it, and plays with it until it finally succumbs.



     The same sad end is true for the friendly chipmunks, and other creatures that enliven our backyards and natural areas.



     Some cat owners must rank among the most irresponsible people on earth. They seem to have no compunction about letting their cats roam at will, where they  not only wreak havoc with local wildlife, but defecate in other people's gardens, dig out their flowers, get into their garages, caterwaul on the roof at night and disrupt the neighbourhood in myriad other ways.
     It never ceases to amaze me that in order to have a dog one has to buy a licence, have the animal micro chipped, ensure that it has its annual shots; it has to be walked on a leash, and confined to the owner's property, yet with cats there are no such restrictions. You can own a dozen cats if you wish and let them out all day, every day, without any regard for the well being of the cat or your fellow citizens.
     It is high time for people to keep their cats indoors, have them spayed or neutered, and it is time for municipalities to start regulating them in the same way that dogs are controlled. Petition your local council to have them enact appropriate by-laws to help to bring this problem to an end.
     And if you think that declawing is the answer, think again. First of all, it is cruel to the cat, but it does not stop them from batting down birds, as the picture of the cat with the Hooded Warbler above clearly shows, and once the cat gets the bird into its mouth a whole soup of toxic bacteria is transmitted from cat to bird.
     I am sure that for many people a cat is a wonderful companion and an important part of a home, but it is long past the time when they should be permitted to decimate our wildlife at will. And don't forget a cat is not native to North America, and if need be should be treated like any other invasive pest.

(Note: All pictures taken from the Internet).


45 comments:

  1. Hi David,
    That's a very, very good article.
    Cats are real predators who kill to kill. Like you say, birds, mammals, amphibians and so on.
    People smile in front of the cat who brings a bird....
    My cat never hunts and sleeps at home every night! It's dressage.

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  2. Yes, for many a cat can make a wonderful companion ...
    I guess we each choose whether or not to have a pet, and what type we have.
    Should we perhaps have a licence no matter what type of pet?

    But indeed nature itself can be cruel ...

    All the best Jan

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  3. Hola David, que pena me da ver las aves así, yo no tengo gato y para alejarlos de mi huerto y jardín donde hay bastantes pájaros les pongo repelente para gatos, porque matan las aves y las musarañas por matarlas ya que no se las comen. Interesante entrada, un abrazo.

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  4. A small bell on a cat's collar would surely solve much of the problem.

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  5. Hari OM
    This argument has raged in Australia for decades now, where cats are also introduced and feral colonies have developed. Many folk have changed to keeping cats entirely within their homes - but in all honesty, I think that is the epitome of human selfishness; it is not natural for cats. It's a fiery subject and I actually love cats as much as dogs, but totally agree that they have become a menace - and, again, only because the human animal let it be so. YAM xx

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  6. Hello David,

    Yes cats kills for fun. They don't need the birds, because they are well fed. I have two cats, but they have a outdoor place to be where they can be outside without do any harm. I love my cats, but I also love birds and squirrels. They can live without fear for my cats.

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  7. Hello, the photos make me so sad. I do wish cat owners would keep their kitties inside. The feral cats are a problem too. They are a menace. Happy Thursday, Enjoy your day!

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  8. As a cat lover, I'm staying quiet on this subject! Love to you both - - - Richard

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    1. I have no problem with cat lovers, Richard. I have huge problems with cat owners who exercise no control over their pets.

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  9. I wonder whether cats or habitat clearing are responsible for more deaths? That said, I mourn all the needless deaths. Our actions/inaction is responsible for both. And more. Our much loved (and happy) cat is certainly inside at night, and rarely out during the day.

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  10. This is a very important subject for discussion. I live in a rural area where feral cats are the norm and most people don't keep a cat as a pet.

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  11. Such a pity, lets hope cat owners become more responsible.
    We have feral cats, owners these days seem to be more responsible than in the past down here.

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  12. Agree esp re feral cats. they should be neutered at least or put down if they live near national parks etc. Pet owners are often pretty irresponsible, sadly not unlike most members of Homo sapiens.

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  13. Not just the cats. Same type of owner need to monitor their kids!
    My daughter lets her cats out on a harness. She walks them twice a day. She has two rescued ones.
    They sit in the window closest to the feeders and talk away to the birds.
    I had an upsetting experience on Sunday. Robins have built a beautiful sturdy nest in the tree just 12 feet from my balcony. Three maybe four babies have been fed regularly by both parents. In front of us a Swainsons Hawk
    flew in the top of the tree and carefully zig zagged down inside, taking his time. I guess he was looking for the nest. My hubby ran inside to grab some apple to throw but was too late. It scooped up a baby and flew away. The parents cried. We have never heard anything quite so painful. The next morning the hawk was back and with its mate - this time they swooped in right to the nest and had a brief air fight with the robins before getting the other babies. They took no notice of the flying apples crashing around them. I know it is the nature of the species but it was upsetting and awesome at the same time.

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  14. Helo David! A very interesting article!
    My cat never hunts ,she likes watching the birds in my yard!
    I hope the owners will be more responsible with their cats!
    Enjoy your weekend!
    Dimi...

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    1. What this means, Dimi, is that you have never seen your cat hunt. My neighbour’s cat killed a fledgling goldfinch right in front of our eyes in our yard, but the owners of the cat said, “Our cat doesn’t kill birds.”

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  15. Mycket bra skrivet David! Jag är djurvän och värnar om alla djur, möjligen med ett litet undantag och det är vildsvin som förökar sig i rasande takt. Men jag är helt enig med dig, det är ägarna som är problemet. Katter värderas inte på samma sätt som en hund eller häst, de kostar nästan ingenting att köpa. Det som inte kostar pengar idag saknar helt värde hos många människor. Alla dessa kattungar som slängs ut i naturen och går en fruktansvärd död till mötes.

    Som alltid är det de tvåbenta varelserna som är problemet.

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  16. Hi David.

    I find it terrible to see a cat with prey.
    People let their cat walk outside and they will catch the birds in my garden.
    I do not like that.

    Groettie from Patricia.

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  17. It is surprising to see those photos.My heart is beating. But it is a real world.
    Thank you for the photos.

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  18. I am very fond of cats, but all the ones I have owned have been limited to the house and an enclosed run outside. Since living here I am really fed up with cats, we do not have any. Some are owned but allowed to go where thry like; others barn cats, who live off the rats birds and mice. We feed our birds well and it is a continual struggle to keep chasing the cats away, there are many, but I think our birds here in the garden, are also far more nervous and aware than any birds I have known either in the UK or Africa.
    Happy weekend Diane

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  19. I get very angry here too with neighbours' cats stalking birds in my garden. Am constantly chasing them away. They are also a pain leaving their faeces everywhere especially when you dig over a border. In fact, it is one of the reasons we gave up growing vegetables due to the "deposits" they left behind and the way they dug up seedlings :(

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  20. Hello David, my cat is both inside and outside.
    He is a member of the family, I know he hunts, if I seeit I try to take him away from the bird. But hunting and cats is difficult to avioid...
    Have a nice weekend,

    Ida

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    1. It is actually quite easy, Ida. Build an enclosure where the cat can be outside but not able to get to the wildlife, or keep it inside.

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  21. I love my Lizzie to pieces but she never goes outdoors, nor would I have her. My first cat, Stimpy, came as a stray and was an outdoors guy until the fateful day he took out a cardinal. And he never went out loose again unless he was on a leash. Gypsy was always indoor. There are loads of reasons for a cat to be an insider -- less change of being mowed down by a car, caught in a fight with another animal or picking up ticks or fleas. But a critical reason is protecting the birds. Lizzie loves watching and if she could get at them she would (she was abandoned and lived on the outside till she came to me). But no chance of that now. Thanks for sharing this. We can't do a whole lot about the ferals but we can keep our own inside where they -- and the birds -- are safe.

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    1. Thank you, Jeanie. You are an enlightened citizen.

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  22. I don't like cats, it's possible that we have been breeding cats, it is killing small birds.

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  23. As a lover of birds and all wildlife, my cat has never gone outside. She has her favorite perches to observe what goes on outdoors through the windows and is quite content with watching the birds and squirrels. No pets should roam free, for their own health and safety, in my opinion. Unfortunately, none of my neighbors agree and my neighborhood and town are full of roaming cats. I've never seen so many anywhere else I've lived.

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  24. Hello David,
    I completely agree with you.
    In the Netherlands it goes like this also.
    The pictures are really intense, I find it terrible that a cat kills a bird.
    Best regards, Irma

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  25. Cats are a problem in big cities. Many are rude.
    Town halls do not have services against stray cats.

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  26. We have two Cats,only one hunts,so we fitted a bell to his collar,which works for the birds,but not for any Rats or Mice.
    We also lose a lot of birds to the Jay, Magpies,and Sparrowhawks etc.
    John.

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    1. Does it not concern you that the cat that is hunting is probably also straying to the property of others, crapping in their gardens, digging up their plants etc.? Or perhaps you have fenced area from which it is impossible for the cat to escape?

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  27. Strong images, poor birds.
    Even living in homes cats never lose their wild side.
    Have a happy weekend
    Many greetings
    Maria from
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

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  28. Good Post I hope some cat owners will take notice...

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  29. I so agree with you about this topic, David. Powerful horrible images. A few times I've found a pile of feathers in the garden due to either a fox or a cat. I don't know if this is an apocryphal story or not but there was a local government area in New Zealand that tried to ban cat ownership. Naturally there was a huge outcry. The municipal officer went on talkback radio. My cat is would never eat a bird, said one caller. I tell you what, he said. You let me cut the cat open to check and if there's no bird inside I'll get you another one!

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    1. I want to meet this fellow! It seems to be universal that people will assert that neither their children nor their pets can do wrong.

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  30. It's just the same here David. And a major problem in Skiathos, Greece where we holiday in September. Made worse there by tourists who feed the cats with food from their restaurant meals. With a five month season many of those cats will die from starvation during October to April. So much for animal lovers.

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  31. a shocking statistic!! i have 7 or so cats that visit my yard on a daily basis. they belong to the woman who lives 2 doors down from me. i despise the cats BUT she is the local judge, her husband a lawyer...they are a powerful couple who don't care what anyone thinks!!!

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  32. I unfortunately recognize the instinct I so often tried to repress in my cat Biscotte! I am currently taking inspiration from my father who has made a kind of wire umbrella fixed on the trunk of his garden fir tree to prevent cats from climbing up and eating the birds that he feeds.

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  33. Hey bah,
    not a nice sight to see the cats with their prey.
    cats in the Netherlands also kill a lot of birds and then they are also ordinary house cats !!!!
    Very good that you pay attention to this.
    Kind regards, Helma xx

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  34. Hi David - well you stirred up a hornet's nest ... and I think I'll agree with you - though I do love cats ... but understand their desire to kill and hunt - much as we alien humans do, as well as power struggle ... but you're right if we all became concerned citizens about everything in life - we might all live happily ever after ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I understand and respect the desire of any animal to hunt and kill, but that is quite aside from the slaughter caused by well-fed domestic cats that have no need to do so. Even lions, perhaps the most efficient predator of all, kill only to feed. They do not engage in the kind of recreational wanton and purposeless destruction that house cats do. See John's comment below. He has a wonderful operation to provide safe habitat for Barn Owls and it is sad that domestic cats have to be guarded against with barbed wire.

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  35. Hi David,
    I completely agree with your sentiments.
    We have had to put barbed wire around the posts to our owl boxes to deter the horrors from climbing up and in. So far appears to be working.
    All the best, John

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    1. The way that you have nurtured Barn Owls, John, is nothing short of remarkable. I have great admiration for what you do.

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