Look To Cat Owners to Fix the Feral Cat Problem

The authorities and scientists in some countries (USA and Australia, for example) are concerned that feral, stray and domestic cats prey on native wildlife to the point where species are endangered. Other countries, such as Israel and the UK, have no such concerns. In other countries such as Switzerland they don’t give it a thought.

I believe it is time for people in those countries where there is concern, to stop arguing about how to deal effectively and humanely with stray and feral cats and start producing concrete strategies and taking courageous steps instead.

The Feral Cat

The Feral Cat. Photo by Alexandra Zakharova.

There are two recent events on either side of the Pacific Ocean that indicates this. But the “feral cat problem” has been brewing for ages. One of the most pronounced symptoms of the feral and stray cat problem is the antagonistic pronouncements routinely disseminated by the bird conservation lobby. Every now and then the bird conservation people use distorted scientific “facts” to denounce the feral cat as some sort of wildlife chomping monster that is intent of wiping out whole species. Their bias against the cat could not be more transparent. And this bias can be found in distinguished organisations such as the Smithsonian Institute.

The bird lobbyists should keep quiet. They have conclusively failed to establish that the feral cat has a significant impact on bird populations and the RSPB, in the UK, comes out in favour of the cat.

New Zealand

In New Zealand we have a new player on the cat hating side of the war between those who want to deal with feral and unwanted cats humanely and those who want to kill them; Dr. Gareth Morgan. Having made some fairly bizarre pronouncement about cats being sadists he has now locked horns with the SPCA in New Zealand. Morgan wants the SPCA to kill feral and unowned cats rather than trap-neuter-return them. He’ll even donate money in that cause. Whereas the president of the New Zealand SPCA, Bob Kerridge, has a far better idea, which tackles the root cause of feral and stray cats: people and irresponsible cat ownership. Bob Kerridge wants to microchip and desex cats.

Dr Morgan seems to be overly focusing on cats while ignoring people. I am pleased to say that there are lot of people who dislike what Dr Morgan has to say. He has even said that the New Zealand SPCA is destroying native species when it releases neutered feral cats.

United States

In the US we have yet another study/survey on the shocking impact the domestic and feral cat has on wildlife. Once again the biased Smithsonian¹ is involved and once again it is pitched very negatively against the cat but the whole study is built around what appear to be pretty wild estimates as to feral cat numbers. If you don’t know how many feral cats there are in the USA how can you work out their impact on wildlife? And even if you did have an accurate figure for feral and stray cats it would still be difficult to assess how much wildlife the cats killed because studies that have observed cats preying on wildlife have not be conclusive. In addition, no thought is given to the potential benefits that feral cats may have in keeping down pest animals such as rats.

It’s About People

Despite being uncomfortable with the relationship that the Australian authorities have with the feral cat in that country (somewhat brutal), I do believe that they are doing the right thing in some states to tackle the feral cat problem. In Victoria, they are focusing on encouraging people to take a more responsible attitude to cat ownership. Most people are responsible it seems to me. However,  a significant proportion are not and these people need to forced to smarten up. This is being done through legislation to make microchipping and neutering obligatory.

If all cats, as Mr Kerridge indicates, are desexed and microchipped, in due course (a long time, admittedly) there would be no stray or feral cats, provided the process was supported with legislation. I know that is unpopular in some quarters but it seems to be the only way.


Note 1: The survey was conducted by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Comments

Look To Cat Owners to Fix the Feral Cat Problem — 10 Comments

    • Yes, I know. I would honestly recommend that the people of NZ look to themselves to solve the problem and not the cats. Look to forcing the minority of people who are irresponsible cat owners to be more responsible and desex their cats and have them microchipped and also to supervise outside wanderings. This is about people as I said. The stray cat is the product of human behavior. To simply mass slaughter stray cats is unethical. It doesn’t work anyway because the cause of the problem is still there after the cats have been killed: the irresponsible people.

  1. What we need is some scientists and doctors who can produce a study that contradicts these inaccurate reports. Also, I don’t think its possible to not accept an enitre species just because its spread is caused in part by humans. If anything that gives less right to ‘not accept’ or try to ‘get rid’ of it. Dr Morgan is a big freak – look at his face – his an ugly monster. They always are. He needs to get rid of that massive walrus moustache and grow a bit of hair on his head if he’s got any. The fact that humans especially love cats means he really should accept the fact and realise his attitude is not going to work and not going to happen. All he is doing is encouraging animal abuse basically. No doubt he will not see it as abuse, but some kind of revenge. But he clearly thinks humans are some kind of gods who can decide to erradicate a species they see as not fitting in with his preferences. Being radical in the context of species and ecosystems should be a thing of the past. The only kind of radical that should exist now is preservation and sustenance. Seriously, what is it with the bird people anyway. Michael makes the real point – they never talk about humans. Humans are the biggest problem. According to Morgans attitude, all humans should move off the island pronto in order to save the natural species on the island. He calls it ‘our indigenous species’ or some such – like again, everything belongs to humans, well if its going to be ‘our’ then the cats are even more ‘our’ than the bloody birds. I know its just semantics but a big ugly noob like mr morgan seems to have no sensitivity nor clue how to manage his own semantics.

    • Great comment, packed full of philosophical points that Dr Morgan conveniently ignores. There is a real need for a reliable and large scale survey/study which produces accurate information we can rely on. I am not sure that can be done and there is certainly no will to do it. The easy, cheap and unethical route is the one that often chosen instead by people who don’t think and don’t care about doing the right thing: kill the cats and to hell with it. It doesn’t even work because the cause of the problem is still there after the cats have been slaughtered: Mr and Mrs Irresponsible Cat Owner. I think we should euthanise people instead ;)

    • Ah ha Common sense! Based on my very basic knowledge I would say that feral cats (at least what I know about the UK ones) are often too diseased and sick to be hunting birds they are more likely to go after Rodents and from what I’ve seen helping some ferals in the inner city of Birmingham they set up colonies around the waste areas of fast food outlets because these are areas of easy food pickings.
      Seems to me Dr Morgan is a cat hater plain and simple, is he even a real Dr? Or this this some title he bought on the net?

  2. Marc I do like you lol your description of Dr Morgan ‘an ugly monster’ made me giggle,I love that like Michael, you are not afraid to speak out when you read about stupidity or injustice or cruelty.
    I too wish we could euthanise the people who make this an unpleasant world to live in, starting with the cat haters of course, they have no right to wish the death of innocent creatures, why can’t they just live and let live like we do?

    • Exactly Ruth, cats are innocent. If anything the irresponsible humans are guilty and yes, perhaps they should be euthanised :) Cats are totally innocent. They never asked for any of this. I doubt they asked to even go to new zealand. But people wanted them there.

      One small minority of intolerant people should not really be taken seriously. There are many more important things to consider in terms of preserving the natural order before having a go at a bunch of cats. Maybe its a deflection – they can’t have a go at people..I wonder what mr Morgans carbon footprint is like. He probably has a big house and travels a lot. He should shut up.

      • Yes, Shut up Morgan. You are outnumbered by decent people. People simply cannot face up to the hard decisions. It is the same with national debt. The politicians wriggle around and try and find a quick fix but never really address the real issues: spending within a country’s means.

        The only way to solve the stray and feral cat problem is to confront people who create these cats in a careless and irresponsible manner. Leave the cats alone other than TNR. Go after the humans for Christ’s sake.

        • I couldn’t agree more! The problem IS man made and you’re absolutely right Michael even if the ferals were euthanised you wouldn’t eradicate the cause; Humans! That money would be far better spent on TNR and making it compulsary to microchip and insure.
          Only yesterday I received a call from someone I know who is a landlord. He evicted his tenant only to find he had left behind 6 cats and 3 kittens. The tenant was on his way to the local pet shop with the kittens when my friend rang me. I said for Gods sake stop him and get those kittens back. We all know pet shops are as irresponsible as those offering ‘£50 to secure a good home’ on the net.
          I then rang every cat rescue in the West Midlands. Same everywhere full to over flowing with waiting lists of 3 months or more. I couldn’t find anywhere for them so I don’t know what he will do :{ His mom has had the 3 kittens and thinks she might be able to find homes for 2 of them and keep the 3rd if the dog is ok with him. It is so frustrating though; people see a fluffy kitten and thats it. I know I’m an idealist at times but we should ban the selling of animals on all but certain monitored websites. Those selling should only be allowed to if they can demonstrate they re-homing in a responsible manner, after all what sort of a world are we living in when there are ferals on the streets, cat rescues full to overflowing coupled with irresponsible idiots allowing their cats to become pregnant then selling their babies!!!!

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