Google employees feeding cats blamed for predation on burrowing owls

Moffett Field is a few miles south of the Googleplex; Google’s office complex. Some of the Google employees like to look after the cats in the grounds of the complex. They feed and generally take care of them. This practice sits nicely with the general attitude of Google. There’s quite a freewheeling open attitude at Google’s offices which in my experience are all glass, color and free food. There is a lot of money sloshing around Google thanks to us.

Burrowing owl
Burrowing Owl. Photo: Jason Henry
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.

Although environmental groups say that Google is generally an excellent partner, they also say that some of the cats from the Google complex appear to be finding their way to the area where the burrowing owls live and preying upon them.

Some commentators say that this is an example of people trying to do good and then having to face up to unforeseen consequences. Also, environmentalists are unhappy with the number of cats at Shoreline Park. At first they couldn’t determine where they were coming from but then somebody came up with the idea that they were coming from Google.

Shoreline Park, Mountain View, California is a 750 acre wildlife and recreation area. It is believed that there are about 50 burrowing owls living in the park. They are a species of special concern. They nest on the ground which obviously makes them vulnerable to predation by cats.

Feral cat feeding station at Googleplex
Feral cat feeding station at Googleplex. Photo: Jason Henry

There have been signs of owls being killed by cats. For example remains of an owl were found in 2015 after a feral cat was seen to be stalking it. The number of sightings of cats in Shoreline Park has increased. Apparently in 2017 there are 318 sightings and it was the first time in 20 years that there are no owl fledgling is observed in the park.

There is obviously a group of employees at Google who really like cats and who want to do right by them. They formed a group called GCat Rescue. They appear to be a TNR group. Some of the cats are adopted. Quite rightly they say that their efforts stop nuisance behaviors in the cats such as fighting, screaming, spraying, roaming and hunting. They are probably wrong about hunting. Feeding feral cats does not completely stop the desire to hunt. They have placed 148 cats for adoption.

The New York Times (the source of this article) have sought a comment from the cat lovers of Google without success. They have learned that there are fewer than 10 people at Google involved in cat colony caretaking. However, they declined to discuss the matter further.

Cat Containment?

Comment: my first thought is that they need to be sure that the cats from Google are killing the owls in the park. There appears to be no firm evidence of it. And the owls appear to be quite a distance away from the Google complex. If the cats are killing the owls something should be done about it. However, if you stop the cats from the Google complex wandering onto the owls’ habitat it is quite probable that some other cats from another area will step into the void. These owls are very vulnerable.

Bearing in mind Google’s vast wealth it may be viable to create a large cat confinement area for their community cats. It would have to be at least several acres provided the land was available.

P.S. As I understand it Moffett Field is owned by Google which leases it out.

6 thoughts on “Google employees feeding cats blamed for predation on burrowing owls”

  1. I’m going with irish on this one.

    If the ferals/ semis/ferals are being fed ENOUGH and are regularly wormed, they won’t be wasting valuable energy by hunting.

    I think an awful lot of ferals could do with bigger potions of food.

    • Jane, I am sure that you have noticed that your comments are being published immediately without moderation. I hope you like that but as I won’t receive notification that moderation is required and won’t know when you comment and so won’t respond as frequently.

    • If you go with Irish on this one you’d be dead wrong. We bred cats to kill whether they are hungry or not. Test this yourself. Right after feeding your cat dangle a bit of string or other moving cat-toy in front of it. Does it want to attack it or paw at it? Well-fed cats actually kill more animals than hungry ones. They are healthier and have more energy to engage in the activity that we purposely bred them to do.

      • I have allowed your comment because it does not contain insults but any future comment you make will be moderated. Don’t insult people.

  2. Then since they are being fed by the google empolyee’s then they (cats) have no need to go after burrowing owls,IMO those opposing the feeding of the cats are lying,well fed cats be them feral or tamed dont kill owls.

    • Well, I am not sure you right Irish. But I have doubts that it is the Google cats who are killing the owls. It needs to be proved.


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