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.
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.
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.
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.