Newspapers cite flawed studies about cat predation

Newspapers should be more responsible when they cite research studies. We must not automatically trust the work of scientists and PhD students. Some are biased.

I also sense that there is an underlying conspiracy by bird lovers against the domestic cat – a sort of hidden agenda – and a general hatred for the feral cat. There is a battle going on. And I have joined it to defend the cat – I feel compelled to do so. I know I go on about this but as I say I feel I have to because articles in newspapers get feed to millions of online surfers who will become indoctrinated by false information. Actually, I am not defending the cat but the truth.

If it can be proved in a truly scientific manner that the domestic cat has a significant impact on bird life populations I will listen and digest. But over an over again I read about how the domestic kills, no slaughters, millions, no billions, of birds in the United States of America and all these so called “studies” are based on “estimates”. And false arguments. And stupid statements.

Who are these researchers who we are meant to trust? They are meant to provide a scientific approach to this emotive and polarized subject. But they are probably people in the early twenties who are studying for a PhD and who know next to nothing about the domestic cat.

Once again an online newspaper – The Columbus Dispatch, no doubt desperate for something to say, has recited two flawed pieces of so called research that is based on some horrifically bizarre calculations to say that the domestic cat that is allowed kills native birds in the USA by the billions.

They quote a study completed at the University of Nebraska that in my opinion is bizarre in the way it struggles and fails to calculate the cost of the alleged decimation of bird life by cats. I have already addressed this flawed study: Feral Cats and Their Management.

The other study that the author of this article quotes is one about the killing of gray catbirds (ironically). This study is also flawed in my opinion.

Look..I am not blindly defending the domestic cat. But I sense that there is a conspiracy going on against the cat and particularly the feral cat that is being promoted innocently by journalists.

On the basis of this flawed research one of the conclusions is to keep cats indoors permanently. And there is lots of talk of what we have to do to feral cats – kill them or TNR them etc.

I don’t like either of these conclusions as neither focuses on us. If there is a problem we caused it. We need to address this problem by addressing our actions and behavior. We are at the root of the problem. Please, can journalists start writing sensible articles that get to the bottom of the problem rather than attacking the domestic and feral cat whose predicament is down to us. To simply conclude that we have to bang up our cats because their natural behavior may lead to the death of wild life is wrong. If we can’t accommodate the natural behavior of cats we should look at a wider solution e.g. manage cat populations more effectively.

The well respected RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) in the UK puts a much more balanced spin to this controversial subject: Domestic Cats Do Not Decimate Bird Populations. Although the RSPB sometimes get it wrong too in my opinion.

Comments for
Newspapers cite flawed studies about cat predation

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 14, 2011 Loss of habitat to blame
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

I used to believe cats were single handedly decimating bird populations. They are formidable predators, after all. But one day I was hiking at Pike Lake State Park near Hartford, Wisconsin and I actually stopped to read one of those educational signs posted near a trail. (I was so out of breath I had no choice.) What I read surprised me. Some animals cope better with loss of habitat than others– deer are still thriving in Wisconsin. Other animals don’t adapt so well. The map showed a comparison of the “big woods” of Wisconsin as Laura Ingalls would have known it to what is left of those forests today. “Wow,” I said. And from that moment on I’ve realized development is much more the issue than cats.

More recently I was hiking at at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo and I was amazed at the variety and number of birds. That area is much more rural– more forests around and not just on park lands. I’m sure there are lots of feral cats out there, yet the birds are thriving. Could it have more to do with the amount of forests available for nesting? Isn’t it logical that a part of the state with more wooded areas left intact makes a better home for birds than areas near a large urban center? Maybe the condos and McMansions being built in ever reaching urban sprawl have more to do with declining bird populations than natural predation by cats.

Even within cities and towns we don’t have plants birds like, much less enough trees. When we bought our current house it had been a rental property so the yard had been let go really bad. We had super tall thistles near the back fence with pink flowers on top of them. Finches loved them. We had so many finches coming to our yard, until our tenant ripped out the thistles. “It’s illegal to have those growing like that on your property in the city,” she said. What a stupid rule. I still have a lot of weeds growing in the wooded strip at the back of the yard. I see honey bees and bumble bees there when usually you seem to only see wasps and hornets these days. Maybe we’ve made the plants those species need “illegal” therefore banishing them from our yards, which cover more and more acerage.

There’s a big thistle growing in the shade by the garage. I think I’ll replant it by the fence in the sun and watch it grow tall, bloom and attract finches to my yard again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.