Consequences of Killing Feral Cats

by Michael

What are the consequences of killing feral cats in large numbers? Many people want to eradicate them entirely from North America. They say they are an invasive species but overlook the reasonable argument that home sapiens could also be defined as an invasive species in countries and continents other than Africa. They say that the feral cat slaughters millions of birds yet overlook research that indicates that the cat prefers ground dwelling animals (rodents) and catches old and dying birds. The say that the feral cat breeds at fantastic rates and produce simplistic calculations yet overlook high mortality rates of feral cats.

Another important factor that these people overlook is they have no idea what the consequences will be to native species including birds of removing large numbers of feral cats.

They naively presume that all will suddenly and automatically be well. A new utopia will be born. No feral cats, plenty of beautiful birds. But will that be the case?

Cats were originally domesticated to control rodents some 9,000 years ago. Feral cats have been in the United States for hundreds of years. They are part of the ecosystem. If you remove one element of that ecosystem you may well unleash unexpected consequences.

We don’t ask what the consequences might be. We don’t assess the whole thing holistically. What if the population of rats and mice surged as a result of the extermination of feral cats. Rats sometimes attack and eat young birds. Mice are known to eat young chicks on the nest too. It may well be that more birds will be killed by rodents if feral cats were exterminated. What about other small mammals in the USA that are preyed upon by feral cats and which can cause damage to property? Apparently chipmunks burrow in walls and can undermine foundations. Chipmunks also prey on bird eggs and nestlings. I am sure there are other examples and perhaps more complicated ecosystem scenarios that may be upset in ways that are yet to be assessed if the feral cat is removed from the ecosystem.

I am not a scientist but it is clear that feral cats can serve a useful purpose that is largely unrecognised. As mentioned they perform their original role of 9,000 years ago – keeping the rodent population down. This is an almost invisible role until we remove the feral cat.

I am not trying to predict an outcome. I don’t know what would happen if feral cats were removed. I am just saying that people who want to kill feral cats to save birds are oversimplifying the matter and failing to assess the situation properly.

I haven’t mentioned the obvious fact that gassing and shooting feral cats is inhumane and I think immoral. That alone should be good enough reason not to try and exterminate them. But thinking through the consequences in a holistic and thorough manner may also prove to be another very good reason to reassess the simplistic notion that you can just kill feral cats to improve the environment.

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Consequences of Killing Feral Cats

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Sep 11, 2011 There you have it
by: Jane

‘He feels that if the earth is god, then humans as part of the earth are also god and just need to realize that’

Humans do they think are god but think of it the wrong way in that they think they are superior to animals.
The whole point is if they never realize they are not superior and change their ways the earth is doomed.
Ruth in her wisdom knows this but I expect she also has hope inside her that a miracle might happen and it gives her the strength to go on.
Say a miracle does happen then I think she will be first to accept she was wrong.

Sep 11, 2011 To Michael and Jane
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Michael, I think it’s just easier for people to blame the cats than to address habitat issues. However, the DNR is giving the eagles some help. Some of the largest islands on the river are now off limits to humans because of eagle nesting sites there. There’s a whole river full of islands and sand bars to play on, so I see no problem with leaving the eagles alone to give them a fighting chance. Overnight camping is now banned on that stretch of the river. It could be because of the eagles, but the locals think it’s because people weren’t picking up their trash. I didn’t see any garbage on or near the river, so I’d call it a positive move.

Jane, I know Ruth is a wonderful person, but I struggle to accept that anyone can live without hope. My friend Don who lives in Madison is a pantheist/neo-pagan, but he has never said that humans are going to wipe themselves out or that it would be better if that happened! Humans are part of nature too! He feels that if the earth is god, then humans as part of the earth are also god and just need to realize that. He has hope for the ability of the human race to do better than it has in the past. I have little hope of that, but my hope is in Christ. Where is the hope in feeling the world would just be better off without us? We need hope to live and should be able to have it!

Don and I, despite out different worldviews, have had some good times together on the river– not canoeing but walking around on islands and sandbars you can access from the shore. One time we were finding so many freshwater mussels that I was motivated to ask Don, “How do mussels mate?” He responded, without a second’s hesitation, “With great pleasure!”

Sep 11, 2011 What I’ve always said
by: Ruth

Which is exactly what I’ve always said, that the ever growing selfish human species is gradually taking away the natural habitat of animals and birds and the very food they need to survive.

There are many diseases humans can not pass on to animals or birds, I stick to my opinion that Nature will ensure that humans will wipe themselves out eventually and animals will survive.

Animals can survive without us !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Sep 11, 2011 Habitat
by: Michael

I completely agree with you Ruth (Monty’s Mum). The biggest cause of endangerment to the survivability of all wildlife in the world is due to habitat loss as a result of human population growth and expanding human commercial activity. It is as straightforward as that. Greater human population also brings with it more feral cats surviving on the fringes of human communities. It turns on us. Yet nothing is done to change things at root. It is hardly even talked about.

Sep 10, 2011 Bald Eagles
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

I spent Friday canoeing the Wisconsin River with my husband. We must have seen six or seven bald eagles on the 12 mile trip. I was amazed at the vast open spaces. There are huge islands on the river itself and miles of wilderness on either side, much of it protected wetlands or simply land that’s too much of a flood risk for anyone to even want to build on it. It’s a wonderful habitat for birds.

We don’t have any bald eagles in the cities, but they are thriving along the river. It’s not the cats decimating bird populations– it’s the loss of habitat! I always thought there were more birds up north, but I couldn’t prove the reason was better habitat and not fewer cats. But since no cat is going to hunt an eagle it pretty much proves that it is all about habitat, not predation by cats. It’s just easier to blame the cats.

Sep 10, 2011 Mother Nature is my God
by: Jane A

Sorry Ruth,I tend to agree with Ruth,lol it’s confusing with two Ruths.
Animals survived before us and would survive again without us.
Mother Nature is my God and she takes care of Nature of which animals are part.
I agree that Ruth’s opinion is depressing but I know Ruth in person and she hides the sad for the world side of herself and makes many people happy to know and love her.

Sep 10, 2011 to those who consider themselves superior
by: Rose

If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth – beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals – would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?
– George Bernard Shaw

Sep 09, 2011 Last word
by: OJ

Well thank god for that (no pun intended lol) Ruth/Katt let those who want to preach go and do it on religious sites, not on cat sites.

In my humble atheist opinion Michael is right in all he says in this extremely good article.

Sep 09, 2011 Animals would all die too
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

If humans did ever wipe themselves out the animals would all be gone too. There would be no chance of a better life without us. The only way it lies in our power to destroy ourselves is global thermonuclear war. A war that takes out all humans takes out pretty much all life. Would the cock roaches survive? Let’s not find out.

Germ warfare? No virus will ever be able to take out 100% of a population. There will always be some resistant and some immune. 1918 pretty much showed this. Elisa’s black cats are healthier theory shows evidence for immunity to disease being a genetic trait that exists in animals.

Anthrax? It’s a naturally occurring bacteria. It probably was responsible for some plague deaths in inland, rural areas. It can be deadly, but hardly on a global scale. There simply is nothing that can take out all humans and leave the planet inhabitable for animals. All it takes is one fertile pair of humans to get the ball rolling and here we go again!

I believe all humans are evil, every single one of us. I know I am. I never have problems finding something to confess. If you want to leave the door open that some humans can be good, then please stop saying it would be good if we all were gone! It’s am evil, horrible thing to say if you actually believe some of us are worth saving! At least some animals, in the short run, would not be better off if humans destroyed themselves. Things are bad for companion animals in our world, but they’d be worse without any humans to care for them. Humans also at times go to great lengths to save wild animals, and sometimes the plight of the wild animal has nothing to do with man, yet we help– like the rescue squad coming out to rescue a deer caugt out on thin ice. What other species on the planet would risk their lives to help that deer?

I believe the human race to be inherently evil, yet by faith in a loving God I see no good coming from our destruction. It just troubles me that you believe humans can be good and yet state that a world without us could be better. I don’t see how you can live under the crushing load of that belief– because if it’s true that the world would be better off without humans then you are saying that it would be better off without me and without you, since we are members of that same human race. Reading about man’s cruelty to animals can be upsetting to me, but reading that the death of an entire species of animal (man) could be a good thing for the planet is far more troubling.

As your friend I’d like to see you let go of this depressing belief that a world before or after man is better than a world with us here. Because if it’s true we might as well all give up right now and leave a better world behind for the animals. If it’s not true then it’s time to focus on the humans who somehow, once in awhile, manage to make things better– like the veterinarian Michael wrote about recently.

Sep 09, 2011 My last word on this subject
by: Ruth

As I’ve already said, I say what I believe and whether I’m right or wrong no one else has to believe it too. My single opinion won’t change anything, or anyone’s mind and I will never change mine, that it’s wrong to use or abuse other living creatures in any way at all. That animals are not here for our use, we are here to be their caretakers. I do believe humans will wipe themselves out one day if they don’t change their ways.
I’ve kneeled in Church with others confessing my sins and asking forgiveness until it hit me, why was I doing that when I’ve done nothing wrong ?
Time to ask for forgiveness if/when I do.
To me being a Christian is not thinking myself superior to any other species, that’s where we humans have gone wrong, thinking we are !
We walk and talk in different ways, a cats meow is as important as a person’s words.
Stay true to yourself is an adage I live by as well as live and let live.
Better to agree to disagree rather than fall out with someone.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Sep 08, 2011 To Ruth
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Ruth, my dear friend, you have said two things many times: 1) that the earth and the animals were better off before man came along 2) they will be better off after humanity has wiped itself out. I want you to reconsider this point of view because if it is the correct one then you have to conclude that the death of any human being contributes to this greater good– a world without humanity.

You say man is just another animal, but make distinctions between acceptable behavior for animals and humans. Somehow man being a carnivore isn’t ok but it’s ok for cats to eat meat. But the fact that humans can choose not to eat meat, can feel pity for other species, shows that man is not just another animal. Obviously, we are different.

I thought you agreed with Darwin since you seem to hold a world view that accepts things like time and chance being responsible for our existence. If we are all here by random chance, then there is no place for concepts like good and evil. Just as animals are not evil when they hunt and drive out other species and even kill members of their own species in the struggle to survive, then man would get a pass when he does the same things. But if man was created by a holy God he doesn’t get a pass. More is expected. We all seem to know more is expected of us. We all know we fall short.

Christianity isn’t really about doing your best, trying to be good and helping others. Christianity is about God taking our evil upon Himself on the cross of Christ, bearing the punishment Himself for every time we have hurt what belongs to Him and marred His beautiful world. All of God that there is hung on that cross and bore the penalty for all our filth. That is what Christianity is about. If I didn’t believe it I would have taken myself out of this world long before I read your post. And without Christ it would be very easy to see how that could be a good thing. Without Christ this world is just a place that has too many humans, and this particular human has left an enormous carbon footprint already. Only in a world with Christ do any of us have a right to our continued existence, considering even the most well meaning of humans constantly screw up the planet. (See Wisconsin DNR– ha, ha– couldn’t resist another poke at them!)

Sep 08, 2011 Animals are not evil
by: Rose

I dont read where Ruth says humanity should be wiped out,I read she says that it will wipe itself out through its own faults.

Dressing up for going to Church and seeing and being seen isn’t being a Christian.
Being a Christian is doing what good you can.

Animals are NEVER evil,their souls are pure yet they are used and abused and beaten and eaten.
If Darwin is right we are ALL descended from animals.
If he is wrong then God created man and woman and gave them plenty of food in the Garden of Eden to eat without killing other living creatures.

Sometimes I too despair but I have my children and my cats and my dogs and my life with which to do my best.

Sep 08, 2011 Who is to say who is right ?
by: Ruth

Ruth I have never ever said cats are evil because they are not, no animal is evil, they act by instinct, we act by thought process.
Believe you me many a time I have wished I was out of this world because of the cruelty, greed and selfishness of the human race.
When I read about one after another animal abused I think I can’t bear any more, when I have another alert about animals tortured in slaughterhouses and killed in pain and fear, I feel physically ill. Battery hens debeaked and crammed in filthy cages, pets kicked and burned and abandoned to die, I think I can’t take any more.
But I’m stuck here on this Planet along with the rest of my species. No, thankfully not all are bad, but we all have the abilty to be !
I think we are born for a reason, my reason has been to help others and animals. I don’t preach that everyone should do it or become veggie, it’s up to each person’s own conscience.
Darwin is NOT my guy, I don’t know what to believe any more, I was brought up as a Christian and to me a Christian is a person who helps others. I’ll go on looking for the good in and helping others and animals until I can’t manage any more, because that’s who I am.
I only write my own opinions as do you and others who comment, it doesn’t mean I’m right or you are right or they are right.
I certainly wouldn’t feel like gassing myself in the car because of someone else’s opinion, I would just agree to disagree.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Sep 08, 2011 Very Upsetting
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Ruth, when you make comments like that it makes me want to go out in the garage, turn on the car and gas myself. If you are correct, that the entire human race is evil, then the best thing any and all of us can do is to remove ourselves from this world and hope the rest of humanity does the same.

Atheists have no business talking about morality. If all the world came about by time and chance then anything we choose to do is the right thing. If it comes down to survival of the fittest, then sorry, human beings are the fittest. What does it matter if one organism that got here by random chance destroys another that got here by chance also? By your standards my little Monty is evil– he has snuffed out the lives of one bird, one earthworm and a host of butterflies. He has done this without remorse. Oh, but he is acting naturally, you say. Well, so are humans when they eat meat and clear land to make room for homes. What does it matter if humans build homes on the habitats of other species? What does it matter if humans value money above all else– money grants them a comfortable and sometimes even a longer life. The fit survive– isn’t that what Darwin said would happen? He’s your guy, but you steal morality from my worldview and interject it into yours.

The problem with that is that I know you are right to call man evil. That God does not destroy us all is a mystery, but a testament to His love also. You are preaching Law without Gospel, and that can only kill, crush and destroy. I know that the utopia the athiest left so wants to create on earth once did exist and I know that it is man’s fault that it is destroyed. I can easily say with George Herbert, “Let my shame go where it doth deserve.” It is often hard not to act on that thought and make it so.

But I know the poem doesn’t end there, that “Love” bids the poet come join the heavenly feast. Christ speaks in this way to my heart also, thank God. For if we follow your line of thought– Christain concepts of good and evil without a God of love to forgive– then the death of any human being is a great good, much to be desired for the sake of all the planet. But God says it’s not. He’s real and He says I and every human being have a right to go on living– and procreating– despite our failings. There is only a problem with playing God if there really is one. When you say all humanity should be wiped out you play God, because this is your thought– it isn’t God’s. Human evil is real, but God’s forgiving love is also real. If there really could be one without the other humanity would have wiped itself out a long time ago.

Sep 07, 2011 The interfering human race
by: Ruth

The human race is unique in its selfishness and opinionated view that it always knows best.
Well I’m here to say it does not, that its interference only destroys the balance of Nature and will eventually destroy this planet unless it wipes out its own species meanwhile.
Feral cats are a huge problem because of humans and the decline of birds is caused by humans too, but most are too arrogant and biinkered to see that !
It was a sad day for animals, birds and fish when we came along.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Sep 07, 2011 And one more thing…
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

An invasive species wouldn’t have any predators in the ecosystem to which it is introduced. It overruns everything because it doesn’t belong there. Like those Asian Ladybugs the Department of Natural Resources introduced to Wisconsin to control some other insect population here and now we are overrun with the stupid things. I have friends who say their cottage up north gets just full of them in the fall– in Biblical plague proportions, but instead of locusts it’s orange ladybugs. They bite too. Our DNR made a terrible mistake and should have known better.

Cats have predators. I read a posting on this site about a woman who heard her neighbor’s cat being attacked by an owl. The cat was found dead the next morning. The population of our local feral cat colony is held in check by coyotes. Dogs could also be considered a predator of cats since there are numerous tales told by readers of cats being killed by dogs. A cat with claws can fend off a single dog, but there are instances of feral dogs hunting in packs killing cats. If cats were truly an invasive species they would have no natural predators in the area they invaded.

Cats do also prey upon animals like rabbits, mice and moles. If you take cats out of the picture you get an explosion in the population of these animals. The problem isn’t that cats are invasive, it’s that urban sprawl and predation by man has reduced the numbers of the cat’s natural predators. This is man’s fault and wiping out the cats is as misguided as our DNR introducing a foreign species of insect to Wisconsin’s ecosystem!

Sep 06, 2011 Cats aren’t an invasive species
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Cats in North America don’t do enough damage to be considered an invasive species. Zebra mussels in Lake Michigan are an invasive species wreaking havoc on that ecosystem. Garlic mustard plants are able to choke out almost all other types of plants if left unchecked.

The argument is made that cats are killing all the song birds. Not true. There are still lots of song birds, and this is despite the fact that the fragmentation of forests today make it very difficult for most birds to survive. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time huge forests covered most of Wisconsin– today but tiny pockets of these remain. Some animals, like deer, are not affected by this change, but the loss of nesting grounds is very detrimental to birds. Given this sitaution, if cats were really an invasive species they would easily have wiped out all the birds by now.

In one of Wilder’s “Little House” books Pa spots a panther in a tree near their barn. I think he ends up shooting it. So obviously, big cats were here in the late 1800’s– diminishing the argument for cats being an invasive species. Maybe if we hadn’t shot all the big cats we wouldn’t have such a problem with deer overpopulation today.

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