Here in Australia our Governments waste taxpayers money to drop and set baits worth millions of dollars each year in an effort to kill feral/stay cats without any progress or accountability. One such figure was quoted as 12 million was spent buying baits in the last few years. This is not only a total waste of money with no possible positive outcome it is inhuman and harmful to other wildlife and birds. Some Councils are even setting aside tracks of urban land as "Cat Free Zones" My only hope is the cats that live in the surrounding areas can read. A much better practice would be to educate people to keep their cats enclosed or to fence of sensitive areas.
Setting the Record Straight: Anti-Cruelty Laws Protect All Cats
In November 2007, a deadlocked jury led to a mistrial in the case of the Galveston birder charged with felony cruelty for intentionally shooting and killing a cat with a .22-caliber rifle. The man’s lawyer reported that his client went to the San Luis Pass Bridge with “an intent to kill” and admits to shooting the cat, but that he claims he did so to protect piping plovers, an endangered species of bird that winters in Galveston. The national media reported that the case hinged on proving the cat was “owned” by John Newland, a man who had put out food, blankets, and toys for this and other cats living under the bridge.
Let’s set the record straight: Intentionally killing a cat is a criminal offense in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, regardless of ownership. Anti-cruelty laws apply to all cats—companion, abandoned, lost, and feral—and there is no such thing as a “piping plover defense.”
Anti-cruelty laws are among many types of laws designed to protect society from violent people. In fact, anti-cruelty laws, first enacted in the late 1800s, were established to protect animals from human violence, irrespective of ownership. These laws led to the creation of child abuse laws and then, in the 20th century, elder abuse laws. The common denominator in all of these laws is protection from a violent person. Scientific research now provides a nuanced understanding of the link between different types of violence. An aggressive individual who lashes out in response to conflict is a threat to society, whether the victim is a child, a spouse, or an animal. Intentionally shooting a cat is a violent act. That fact doesn’t change because the animal isn’t wearing a collar.
Like the laws against homicide, anti-cruelty laws excuse intentional killing in the rare cases when harm is imminent and serious, making lethal force necessary. Although anti-cruelty laws include other defenses, they do not recognize a bird-protection defense. Indeed, the piping plovers at issue in the Galveston case are already protected by federal laws, as are hundreds of other bird species.
Those laws reflect decisions made by elected officials, informed by scientific evidence, on the best measures to protect and recover endangered species. In fact, scientific research shows that humans, not cats, are the overwhelming cause of declining bird populations. No individual is entitled to act contrary to the law simply because that person’s opinion differs from the collective judgment of the legislature.
Anti-cruelty laws protect all cats. That protection is not—and as a practical matter, cannot be—based on ownership status. We wouldn’t want such distinctions to be made anyway, because like many criminal laws, these laws exist to protect all of us from aggressive individuals. We are a nation of laws, not of violence. For this to hold true, we must remain vigilant against every act of violence, inflicted on any victim—even when the victim is a cat.
Alley Cat's Allies...USA
Feral cat day celebrated in America.
On October 16, cat advocates across the country in the USA will reach out to their communities to spread the word about feral cats and how Trap-Neuter-Return improves their lives. Their National Feral Cat Day is celerbrated every year on the 16th October.Before Alley Cat Allies formed in 1990, most Americans didn’t know the best way to care for stray and feral cats. Today, improving feral cats’ lives through Trap-Neuter-Return programs is widespread, thanks to Alley Cat Allies and the ongoing support of caring communities all over America. Hundreds of local groups work on behalf of stray and feral cats, while millions of Americans have reached into their hearts and their wallets to care for and feed them.
Here in Australia our Governments waste taxpayers money to drop and set baits worth millions of dollars each year in an effort to kill feral/stay cats without any progress. One such figure was quoted as 12 million was spent buying baits in the last few years. This is not only a total waste of money with no possible positive outcome it is inhuman and harmful to other wildlife and birds. Some Councils are even setting aside tracks of urban land as "Cat Free Zones" My only hope is the cats that live in the surrounding areas can read. A much better practice would be to educate people to keep their cats enclosed or to fence of sensitive areas.
Because of all the bad publicity attributed to cats in Australia by irresponsible media and reporting it has become a pathological obsession to seek and destroying cats instead of working with nature and giving her a chance to repair herself with TNR like they have in America.
Some very interesting reading for those who believe that all wildlife problems are caused by cats.
Latest research from Dr. Maggie Lilith at Murdoch Research Repository.
"No definitive evidence of predatory impact by pet cats on the small mammals was found. Mammal species diversity was not significantly different between sites and species richness and absolute abundance were not higher in sites where cats were restricted.
Vegetation comparisons showed significant differences in the structure and species composition of the vegetation between most sites and the mammal species richness and abundance appeared linked to ground cover density in the various sites.
This factor, not cat restrictions, appeared to be the primary determinant of species richness, species diversity and absolute numbers of small mammals in these sites."
April 10 – 12, 2010
Alley Cat Alliance and vets work together on US Feral cats.
Elena Johnson, Senior Program Manager, Emily Facet, Outreach and Education Coordinator, and Roxana Rahmani, Programs Assistant, will exhibit at the Baltimore CVC Veterinary Conference. They will have factsheets and information ready for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. They will provide attendees with eartipping protocol information, scientific studies on Trap-Neuter-Return, and more.
To continue our outreach into the veterinary community, Alley Cat Allies President Becky Robinson will be at the University of Illinois Veterinary Medical College Urbana, Illinois campus, speaking to the Student Chapter of AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners).
Getting feral cat veterinary protocol and information into the hands of veterinary professionals as they begin their careers will help make the world better—and safer—for feral cats. Robinson will present "She’s Not Your Average Client: Veterinary Protocols for Feral Cats," and will discuss feral cat health, feral cat behavior, Trap-Neuter-Return, the feral cat population, and everything else veterinarians need to know about feral cats.
Key Scientific Studies on Trap-Neuter-Return
Scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return, also known as TNR, is the humane and effective approach for managing feral cats.
Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the humans who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time. These studies have been conducted in multiple countries, and have been published in a variety of peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Cats benefit from Trap-Neuter-Return in both the long term and the short term.
Studies document that after neutering, cats become healthier and gain weight, and that the lifespan of cats in managed colonies increases. One study found that at the end of a 10-year Trap-Neuter-Return program, 83% of the cats in the managed colonies had been residing in those colonies for more than six years, resulting in a lifespan comparable with household cats, who have an average lifespan of 7.1 years. In addition, studies have found that aggressive interactions among cats in managed colonies decrease after spaying or neutering, while affectionate interactions increase. Cats in neutered colonies also roam less and do not fight over mates.
In addition to improving the lives of cats, these changes also tend to make cats better neighbors to the humans who live near them.
Neutered cats make less noise, for example, and fight less.
Multiple long-term studies of Trap-Neuter-Return have shown that managed colony population sizes decrease over time.
One study found a 66% decrease in the populations of managed colonies over 10 years, while another documented decreases of between 16 and 32%, starting at three years after Trap-Neuter-Return began.
Scott, Karen C., Julie K. Levy, and Shawn P. Gorman. Body Condition of Feral Cats and the Effect of Neutering. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2002, 5(3): 203-213.
This study examines the effects of neutering on feral cat health by measuring the body condition of feral cats upon trapping, then measuring it again for 14 cats who were trapped again one year later. The cats who were trapped initially were lean but not emaciated, and the cats trapped one year after neutering showed significant increases in weight and improvements in body condition. In addition, caregivers reported that the cats had a decreased tendency to roam after being neutered.
Neville, P.F. and J. Remfry. Effect of Neutering on Two Groups of Feral Cats. The Veterinary Record 1984, 114: 447-450.
Researchers studied two colonies in Regent’s Park, London to determine whether neutering had any negative effects either on the social structure of the colony or on the individual cats. No negative health effects were observed, and the colony’s social structure seemed to strengthen after the cats were neutered. Cats were seen to spend more time in groups, show fewer aggressive behaviors toward each other, and fight less.
Hughes, Kathy L. and Margaret R. Slater. Implementation of a Feral Cat Management Program on a University Campus. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2002, 5(1): 15-28.
Hughes and Slater document the success of a new Trap, Test, Vaccinate, Alter (spay or neuter), Return, and Monitor (TTVARM, a.k.a. TNR) program on the campus of Texas A&M University, looking at the changes between the implementation year and the one that followed. In the first year, 123 cats were trapped, compared to 35 in the second. Over the course of the program, 32 cats and kittens were adopted. In the second year, only three kittens were found, and the researchers assume that these were lost or abandoned, as no litters or nursing mothers were seen in that year. The program illustrated how a well-managed TNR program can stabilize a population of cats.
Levy, Julie K., David W. Gale, and Leslie A. Gale. Evaluation of the Effect of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return and Adoption Program on a Free-Roaming Cat Population. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2003, 222(1): 42-46.
This study tracks a TNR program on a Florida college campus over the course of 11 years to determine the characteristics of cats involved and to document the effectiveness of the program at controlling the population of cats on the campus. Kittens and tame cats were adopted out, and new cats were trapped and neutered. At the end of the study, the population had decreased by 66%, and over 80% of the cats had been resident for more than six years—a duration comparable to the mean lifespan of 7.1 years for household cats.
Natoli, Eugenia, et. al. Management of Feral Domestic Cats in the Urban Environment of Rome (Italy). Preventative Veterinary Medicine 2006, 77: 180-185.
This study documents the cat population over 10 years in a well-established Trap-Neuter-Return program in Rome, Italy, and determines that it has produced significant reductions in the numbers of cats within the city. Over the course of the program, the number of registered feral cat colonies increased from 76 to 965. After three years, the average number of cats in registered colonies began to decline, showing a decline between 16% and 32% over the course of the study period. The authors caution that education is needed to prevent intact pet cats from joining the stray and feral cat population via immigration.
FERAL CAT FRIEND OR FOE
Total eradication of feral cats instead of TNR have created more trouble than it has solved. Over the years history has documented many disasters like some of those noted below. You think that we would have learnt by our mistakes but no we keep on insisting that total eradication works.
Examples of Feral Cat Eradication Gone Wrong
Designated a World Heritage site in 1997, Macquarie, an island located halfway between Australia and Antarctica, has had a history of nonnative species inhabiting its beautiful landscape. The island is well known for its vast populations of seabirds and elephant seals that migrate there each year to breed, but it seems the feral cats, rabbits, rats, and mice have been receiving the most attention. Over the past 100 years, passing ships have introduced these species to the island and now authorities have been working to remove them. Environmentalists were especially concerned for the native seabirds’ survival, so in 1995, the Parks and Wildlife Service of Tasmania tried to remove most of the feral cats. Unfortunately, this cat-removal project shows the dangers of meddling with an ecosystem and not taking into consideration the in-direct effects of such projects.
By removing the cat population, this allowed for the rabbit population to explode, in turn, most of the island’s fragile vegetation that the birds depend on for food and shelter has been destroyed and causing many island slopes to erode. According to Dana Bergstrom, of the Australian Antarctic Division, and her colleagues, removing the cats has “caused environmental devastation that will cost authorities 24 million Australian dollars ($16.2 million) to remedy.” Subsequently, the park service now plans to use technology and poisons that were not available a decade ago to eradicate rabbits, rats, and mice from the island.
Again, this story is another example of why humane, non-lethal methods of animal management should be utilized over total eradication attempts. As more attempts to eradicate one animal population take place, the more we hear about how another animal population quickly flourishes and causes new problems. By implementing sterilization programs (such as TNR for feral cats), there is no sudden large-scale change in an environment to create a sudden reaction, instead an animal population is slowly reduced over time allowing the environment to gradually adjust—nature will find the balance and there will be less casualties.
Cape May, NJ: feral cats removed causing explosion in skunk population
Amsterdam Island: feral cats removed (to protect ground-nesting birds) causing black rat and house mice populations to increase (they began to prey on ground-nesting birds)
Humans: The Number One Threat to Birds
Concern over the declining populations of certain bird species has generated heated debate about what are the most effective steps toward preserving and restoring those populations. Too often this discussion becomes mired in a simplistic cat-versus-bird argument. Focusing on the perceived struggle between cats and birds diverts attention from the real cause of declining bird populations: the enormous impact of the human species on birds and their habitats.
The major cause of bird species loss—indeed, all species loss—is habitat destruction. Habitat modification, fragmentation, and loss is caused by a myriad of human activities, including logging, crop farming, livestock grazing, mining, industrial and residential development, urban sprawl, road building, dam building, and pesticide use.
In a 2000 report by the World Conservation Union surveying 1,173 threatened bird species, habitat loss was the most important threat, affecting 83% of the bird species sampled. Across the United States, little land is left untouched by human development, modification, fragmentation, and pollution. Already human activities have led to the extinction of 10% of the world’s bird species—in some locales, that number rises to as much as 90%. Today more than a thousand bird species are listed as threatened, and scientists predict between 500 and 600 of those will go extinct in the next 50 years.
In the United States, much of the impact on birds is a result of America’s growing population and its even faster-growing development of land. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. population grew by 33 million people, the greatest numerical increase the country has ever seen. Future growth is predicted to add 27 million people each decade for the next 30 years.
More significant is that America’s demand for resources is growing disproportionately to its population. A Brookings Institution analysis reveals that urbanized land increased by 47% in the 15 years between 1982 and 1997, even though population only increased by 17%; population in suburbs, meanwhile, increased twice as fast as population in cities. Researchers at Brookings predict that by the year 2030, half of the buildings in which Americans live, work, and shop will have been built after the year 2000. With this level of development and population growth, the serious loss of bird species—due to habitat destruction, pollution, and fragmentation—will continue for decades to come.
Considering the vast scale of human destruction of bird habitat, arguing about “cats-versus-birds” trivializes the critical issues facing bird populations today. Cat lovers and bird lovers can agree: the real danger to birds is humans.
Habitat Destruction Bibliography
BirdLife International (2004). Threatened birds of the world 2004. CD-ROM. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.
Brooks, Thomas M., Stuart L. Pimm, and Nigel J. Collar. "Deforestation Predicts the Number of Threatened Birds in Insular Southeast Asia." Conservation Biology 11 (1997): 382-394.
Dirzo, Rodolfo, and Peter H. Raven. "Global State of Biodiversity and Loss." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 28 (2003): 137-167.
Jetz, Walter, David S. Wilcove, and Andrew P. Dobson. "Projected Impacts of Climate and Land-Use Change on the Global Diversity of Birds." Public Library of Science Biology 5 (2007): e157, http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.0050157’.
King, David I., and John H. Rappole. “Population Trends for Migrant Birds in North America: A Summary and Critique.” Defenders of Wildlife (2003).
Myers, Norman, Russell A. Mittermeier, Cristina G. Mittermeier, A. B. Da Fonseca, and Jennifer Kent. "Biodiversity Hotspots For Conservation Priorities." Nature 403 (2000): 853-858.
Pimm, Stuart, Peter Raven, Alan Peterson, Çagan H. Sekercioglu, and Paul R. Ehrlich. "From the Cover: Human Impacts on the Rates of Recent, Present, and Future Bird Extinctions." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 103 (2006): 10941-10946.