Kill Feral CatsGeorge P. Stimson, Jr.
I’ve just learned from reading the local online newspaper that my California county has the very dubious distinction of having the most feral cats per capita of any county in the state. We have an estimated 11,000 of the creatures (as well as approximately 11,900 cats who are considered to be pets).
The article went on to state that there are an estimated 80 to 90 million feral cats (so-called “community cats”) in the United States. Then, when coming to a discussion of dealing with the problem, the article stated flatly that euthanasia was not a suitable remedy because killing feral cats and disposing of their bodies was ”expensive.” So instead, my county is apparently embarking on a program of “Trap, Neuter, Return/release” (TNR) in which wild cats are trapped and sterilized. Then they are vaccinated and have their ears “tipped” for easy identification after they are released back into the wild. The county has even applied for grant funding (from the state or local government?) to help pay for these “more humane” and supposedly intelligent procedures.
If this latter procedure is less expensive than simply killing cats and disposing of their bodies I’d frankly be very surprised, and I’d love to have someone supply me with the financial figures that back up this claim. But even if euthanasia is more expensive than spaying it’s still a preferable solution and for one simple reason: feral cats are an invasive species that wreaks enormous havoc on the natural ecosystem and wildlife of this country.
One study has concluded that feral cats are annually responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of birds. Some of the birds are common species, such as cardinals, blue jays, and house wrens, but others are rare and endangered species, such as piping plovers and Florida scrub jays. And in addition to this avian Holocaust, feral cats are believed to kill more than a billion small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks annually.
And those are just the resulting slaughter committed by feral cats. When you factor in “pet” cats which are allowed outdoor access, the figures climb much higher. According to one study, the average outdoor “house” cat kills an average of 35.5 birds each year. If you multiply that figure by the estimated number of outdoor pet cats in the country the staggering total is over four billion birds killed by cats each year! (A more conservative study put the annual number of bird deaths per cat at just 15.5 per year — along with 41 other small animals. But that still leaves a “low” estimate of 1.75 billion bird fatalities per year.)
In addition to being killing machines, cats (both domestic and feral) also wreak havoc on the environment with their waste matter, which can get into rivers and oceans (much of the time through poor human disposal practices). One study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) determined that toxoplasmosis entering the water from infected cat feces kills thousands of marine mammals (such as California sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, and dolphins) especially in combination with another parasite, Sarcocystis neurona.
I’v known people who feed outdoor cats, and I don’t doubt that they and other advocates of a “live and let live” policy for these wild felines have good intentions. But as you can see from the above information, their intentions are totally misguided and the results of their cat coddling are lethal.
Invasive species are second only to habitat loss as a cause of extinctions of wildlife. And that’s what feral cats (and pet cats which are allowed to roam outdoors) are — invasive species. They have no place in the natural order of life. In fact, they are destroying the natural order of life. The only solution to the problem of cat predation on wildlife is to trap all cats found outdoors (what responsible cat owner who truly loved their pet would allow it to wander around outside where it could be hit by a car or killed by some animal like a coyote which was higher on the predator chain?), and kill them.
* * *
And since there’s nothing wrong with using personal anecdotal evidence to support a position, I offer the following two bits of evidential input based on my own observation and experience.
One — At our previous house in California’s Central Valley the feral cat problem was terrible. Not only could you hardly ever do any yard work without stepping in their shit (or, worse, getting it on your hands), but we were constantly finding the remains of dismembered birds on the property. (Not to mention that they were always getting into the garage or under the house and having litters.) Eventually, I got a HavaHart live trap and started trapping them. After about a year I had trapped over 80 cats! (And this was without even a full-time trapping operation; it was something I did only periodically.) After that year, the noticeable effect of my efforts was virtually nil. The observation wasn’t “What happened to all of the cats?,” but was rather “Look at all the cats!”
Two — Even perfunctory observation of domestic cats reveals them to be prolific killers of native wildlife. A few years ago I was staying with my cousin’s family in Ohio for a few days. One day I saw their cat with a bird it had just caught. Happily, the bird got away, and I convinced myself that it was probably an isolated incident. But just a couple of days later I saw that the same cat had caught another bird that wasn’t to lucky. (This cat had been declawed, so that procedure is no solution to the problem.) And that was just what I observed over a three or four day period.
On the same trip, my cousin’s husband (he’s not a blood relative, folks) was recounting the story of an upset mother who had come to the house and complained because her young child had been practically traumatized by the sight of the family cat dismembering a chipmunk on my cousin’s porch. My cousin’s husband thought that the story was kind of funny, and dismissed the cat’s actions with, “But that’s what cats do!” (Oddly, though, the family doesn’t let the cat out at night because since it’s declawed it can’t defend itself from local predators like raccoons. So apparently it’s natural to my kin for their cat to fulfill its destiny at its level of the predator chain, but it would be unacceptable for the cat to meets its end at the claws of some creature higher on the chain. A cat killing a chipmunk is just “What they do!” But Fluffy falling prey to a raccoon should be avoided at all costs.)
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If I didn’t know better I would be wondering if George wasn’t writing parables about the racial conflict – when we come to power do we euthanize them or neuter them? (:
I myself have six used-to- be feral cats and a dud of a guard dog rescued from an auto wreckers before the Somalian could run her over (That’s what we do in my country.) We toss the occasional nut out to a couple of squirrels and to our amazement they now come in an open window and help themselves. The cats are as dud as the dud ex guard dog and I could count on one hand the number of birds that they have caught over the years.
Anyone in the cat world knows that it is kinder to put feral cats down as to leave them condemns them to a slow death but in the long run educating people to spay and neuter is far more effective. Public sentiment amongst the more active and thoughtful people, in my experience, is for catch and release. And we do want to win the public to our side.
Feral cats sometimes have the ability to support themselves and thus have earned a place in the chain of life. Savitri Devi would be outraged at this article.
I thought it would be a good counter-balance to our recent Savitri Devi birthday celebrations. Perhaps I went too far. As atonement, I will publish a new edition of Long-Whiskers and the Two-Legged Goddess.
Honestly, the “traumatized” kid sounds like a totally pussy.
I have read this article and now officially declare that Mr Stimson is hereby ordered to read the Warrior Cat series so that he can more fully appreciate the culture and mythology of feral cats.
I really don’t understand the point of this article, or why Greg ran it, apart from the fact that you don’t like cats. You write as if cats are man-made rather than being a part of the natural environment themselves, and that the only acceptable cats are those which are kept indoors (and out of their natural habitat). Yes, cats do kill some other creatures, but so do many other types of animals in the wild. Cats have been in our environment for millennia. In fact, it has been theorized that the Black Death was caused by all the cats which were being killed at the time out of the fear that they were in league with the devil, and this in turn led to a rise in vermin, and hence, the plague.
This isn’t just a matter of taste. I’ve been living for quite some time in India, and there, people are respectful of animal life but also do not have the same sentimental attachment for pets that we do. Very few people own cats or dogs, and even fewer keep them inside their homes, yet they are everywhere in the streets. Dogs are considered a nuisance because they threaten both humans and other animals with violence and disease, are dirty, and breed prodigiously. There are so many of them that they roam in packs at night, and their howls can be heard continuously after dark in any Indian city. Cats, however, are usually welcome in neighborhoods, at least outdoors, because they help to get rid of rodents, keep themselves clean, are quiet, and are generally non-threatening to humans. Some even put out food for them. (Personally, I like both cats and dogs, even though I’ve always been more partial to cats.)
You would like the book by Pentti Linkola that my company, Arktos, publishes, however, as one of the essays in it is an anti-cat article that is very similar to yours.
Actually, I like cats just fine, although I am allergic to them. Personally, I am all for domestic cats. But domestic cats do kill huge numbers of birds and mammals every year, most of them purely for sport, since their nutritional needs are provided for by humans. Many humans also feed feral cats, who still hunt for sport. So I am with George and Linkola on this one. An ethical attitude toward nature cannot entail not killing, since life feeds on life, and everything dies in the end. An animal that lives in agony then is killed humanely still lives in agony. The greater ethical issue, therefore, is the quality of life, and one has to think of the whole ecosystem. The controlled killing of certain animals to keep their populations in check and to keep them from destroying other species is perfectly ethical from an ecological point of view. Sometimes ecological responsibility requires tough love. That is why I posted George’s piece.
Greg, I understand your reasons even if I don’t agree with them. I also helped to publish the Linkola book, even though I didn’t agree with his view on this one issue. However, I take the Hindu view on this, that it’s not the place of man to decide if or when an animal needs to be killed. If an animal is threatening your health or safety, that’s another matter. But deciding whether or not we should intervene in favor of one species over the aggressions of another should not be up to us, or if the life of a particular species in a particular time and place is too hellish for them to endure.
By the way, just to be clear after my first response, I would object to the killing of feral dogs, in India or here, just as much as the killing of feral cats. And I do feed feral cats, and sometimes dogs also, in India. In fact there is one cat with her latest litter of kittens and one dog who hang around my apartment building in Mumbai because they know I’ll feed them every day. Not that they need me since they were getting along without my help before, but I suppose I make their lives a bit easier and they can eat real food instead of trash for a change.
I also agree with what Gustav wrote, although at the same time I didn’t get the impression that Mr. Stimson was advocating the killing of other people’s pets (although if a pet cat is allowed to roam free part of the time, as many are, it might not be easy to tell).
Incidentally, Greg, I wouldn’t say you went too far with this. Gods forbid that you were to only run things that everyone who reads your site would like. That would rather defeat the purpose of the whole enterprise.
I don’t think we are so brittle that we will be shattered into catch and release versus catch and kill camps.
Well, now, Gregory. A good way to find out how you really think and feel about the disposal of feral cats or anything else that wants to continue living and breathing just as much as you do is to try doing the deed yourself. I know people who thought they felt like you did, but had to turn away at the sight. Is there a message or not in this?
Further, not all feral cats live in agony any more than all street people are miserable. Who decides “quality of life”? You say you have allergies; in some cases they get so terrible you can’t even leave home or at best your activities and contacts are heavily restricted. Would you want some Linkola type euthanizing you? Why are you different from all those animals? Who decides? Tough love only for animals but not people? There was an occasion when I wished for death but I pulled through. Suppose the deep ecologists were in charge. They’d have put me away and you would not today be the grateful recipient of my wisdom!
I’ll tell you what’s agonizing: to see a housebound dog or cat injected countless times every year with poisonous vaccinations as well as forced to ingest a grossly unnatural diet that leaves them cancerous or diabetic or you name it. Just like people.
I’ve just been adopted by a stray so I’ve read up a bit about cats. The original species they come from are still around: they look almost exactly the same as the domestics, just a little bigger. There are three breeds, the African, Asian, and European. The European is the outlier – it rejects the company of man and has a ferocious temperment. The other two are congenial to man. I’m guessing that our cats came mostly from Africa – the picture looked exactly like our cats. The Asian cats of course have been brought to the West – the Periains, Siamese, etc.
I live in the Texas outback, have lots of animals, and daily take care of a feral cat colony (expending my own funds). Because I’m retired I have plenty of time for critters and am quite cognizant of what they do with their spare time, and, no Mr Stimson, they don’t butcher the local fauna as you claim. I keep my cats fat and happy and feed my birds in a catless place, which didn’t take a whole lot of heavy thinking on my part.
Here’s a wee bit of advice for you, sir, and anyone else who may decide that it’d be fun to take up your cat killing hobby. One day you’re going to kill the cat of someone like me and that person is going to make it his hobby to make your life a living hell. I think you get my drift. Destroying someone’s pet (in my opinion “family member”) is a cold, calculated act that will not be forgiven.
Gustav: My dad kept the family well fed on pigeons, pheasants, ducks and geese until one day he shot a duck in a pond only to learn later later that it was a boy’s pet and from that day on he never hunted again. I think he even went to his grave vaguely haunted by the hares he had caught in snares.
However, I do enjoy George’s essays and am glad that CC covers a wide range of topics and opinions. I look forward to more articles from George and although I don’t always agree with him we are basically all on the same page and he can sit at my table any time he wants.
Cats bury their shit. You are probably stepping in pigeon poo.
Like municipal politics most people find the issue of feral cats, environmentalism, vivisection (I guess John and Ward meekly line up for the annual flu shot.) and caring for strays boring and only vote in the big election. However, the issues that George raises are basically White issues and one way of reaching people is talking about what interests them. I live in a major multi racial metropolitan area and I can say with certainty that volunteers in these areas are mostly White. Sadly, young White people are losing an interest in volunteering and maybe in the end we will have to follow George’s advice and shoot all the ferals. In the meantime, I encourage CC to keep its wide eclectic interest in topics that won’t interest everybody, but will still have to be faced when we return to Power.
Some further information to help you do the RIGHT thing. ALL the required laws that you need to deal with this problem are already in place and have been for decades most everywhere.
Cats listed in THE TOP 100 WORST INVASIVE-SPECIES OF THE WORLD in the “Global Invasive-Species Database”: http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=24&fr=1&sts=sss
Cats are _NOT_ exempt from invasive-species laws.
IT IS YOUR CIVIC AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO DESTROY ANY INVASIVE-SPECIES WHEN FOUND AWAY FROM SAFE CONFINEMENT AND OUT IN A NON-NATIVE HABITAT. In fact, it is against the law to NOT destroy an invasive-species on-sight. Since cats are genetically engineered through selective-breeding and no longer have ANY native habitat ANYWHERE on earth, these laws include cats. This is precisely how they are dealt with on my own land, destroyed by using any and all humane methods** (see note).
For an example of how invasive-species laws are properly followed and enforced: It is highly illegal for a person to transport an African Cichlid fish species to just the other side the road if you catch one in the canals of the Everglades when fishing. THEY MUST BE DESTROYED ON-SIGHT. Yet Cichlids are often kept as pets, that’s how they wrongly got into the canals to begin with. There are hefty fines in place for anyone found transporting these invasive-species alive if caught in the wild. (Interestingly, these Cichlids are FAR FAR LESS damaging to the environment and all other native wildlife than ANY cat.)
All of this much to the dismay of criminally irresponsible and psychotic cat-lovers who are desperately trying to raise these invasive-species cats to some absurd level of “Community Cats”. If they do that then I’ll just raise “Community Pet Piranha” and release them in all your lakes and pools, or “Community Pet Black-Mambas” and release them in all your backyards and parks, then claim the exact same protections for them as cat-advocates want for their invasive-species cats. It’d only be fair! Are you starting to see just how absurd and ludicrous these cat-advocates are yet?
** (Though to be perfectly honest, considering how cats cruelly torture and destroy all other animals by ripping the skins off of live animals or disemboweling them for slowly dying and twitching cats’ play-toys (not even using them for food), I’m not sure why cats should be given the privilege of a humane death. I’ve been drawn to many animal screams in my woods to find their cats shredding another animal to death; which I had to then quickly put that animal out of its misery, torment, and suffering caused by that cat. Lucky for those I found so fast from their screams. Other wildlife that I’d find days later had died a slow and agonizing death from wounds after being shredded by their cats. I guess I’m just more humane than all cat-lovers and their cats, that’s why their cats get shot and die instantly instead of equitably and justifiably tortured to death. If cat-advocates want REAL justice for their cats then any cat found outdoors would have to be cruelly tortured to death the same way their cats cruelly torture all other animals — something that I couldn’t do. Maybe that’s why TNR-advocates don’t mind that their cats slowly die of “attrition” — by disease, attacks, exposure, starvation, road-kill, etc., on ad-infinauseum.)
Here’s your get-smart wake-up call ….
A 1-year population-growth projection on 11,000 cats results in 159,637 cats. This means that starting today, you’ll have to trap 437.4 cats PER DAY, 7 days a week, into perpetuity to just catch up to their breeding rates. If you can’t attain or surpass that trapping rate then trapping is not your solution because they are still breeding out of control exponentially. At the average cost of anywhere from $120-$170 TNR costs PER CAT, this means it will only cost you anywhere from $52,488.00 to $74,358.00 PER DAY. Or $19,158,120.00 to $27,140,670.00 PER YEAR. Keeping in mind of course that this is a cost that must be sustained into perpetuity if you cannot trap them faster than this.
This is why a one-time PER CAT cost of 0.3 cent to 5.0 cents per .22 that solves their destroying native wildlife, spreading diseases, and stops their breeding in its tracks is the only possible solution today. It’s the ONLY method that is faster than their breeding rates.
There’s weasels and similar predators around my farm who stalk my chickens, bite their heads off and keep on going. What the hell is that in aid of? They are just having fun, they don’t even eat the chickens. At least cats leave my livestock alone.
Why pick on cats? Dogs, alone or in packs, come charging into our yard, slaughter the chickens and then, like the weasels, just mosey on. Maybe I should torture these dogs to death.
I’d say people are the most invasive species.
Homo sapiens is NOT an invasive species ANYWHERE. Since humans have the genetic code to give them the capability to travel/migrate to ANY part of the globe, this means they are native to any area they can travel to on their own. Just like birds that have this capability and can travel to different continents and islands. Those that have the flight-range required to do so are NATIVE to those areas that they are capable of traveling to ON THEIR OWN.
Whereas, an animal genetically engineered through selective breeding, such as CATS, are NOT AN INDIGENOUS SPECIES ANYWHERE. They are no more natural to any native environment than some genetically engineered insect that was invented in some lab, that once released out into nature will destroy all native wildlife, JUST AS CATS DO.
As for your livestock problem, cats do NOT leave poultry alone. Who are you trying to kid or lie to? Yourself? The rest of us know better than to believe that bull. They’ll even kill nesting turkeys, pheasant, and grouse (as they’ve done on my land). I bet those headless chickens are from your cats and you just don’t realize it or refuse to admit it. Other predators would not leave a resource of food like that behind, as cats nearly always do. Your chicken problem screams “cat attacks” just from the description alone. (If there’s one thing I learned in all of this that you can count on with absolute certainty, if a cat-advocate is talking then they are lying. 100% guaranteed.)
I suggest you look into encouraging and befriending Grey Foxes. European-introduced poultry is not on this native-predator’s menu and they’ll also get rid of excess weasels and squirrels, as well as any rodents you might have. They’re the only fox species able to climb trees, allowing them to keep squirrel populations in check too. Also, unlike cats, they won’t spread around Toxoplasma gondii parasites to other animals including your livestock (that if you eat undercooked infected livestock then it becomes a permanent parasite in your own mind). Cats actually attract rodents. They infect rodents with their T. gondii parasite and then the rodents lose all fear of cats and are attracted to cat urine. This parasite alters the brains of any animal it infects, INCLUDING HUMANS. If you want MORE rodents by your home, keep cats. (for one of thousands of sites reporting this finding
There are hundreds of native predators that are far better at pest control than ANY cat will ever be. Learn to attract them and make them feel safe in your area. Or you can be one of those environment destroying humans that you despise, as you’ve been all along. Your choice.
We don’t have any cats any more. They were outdoor/indoor cats & died of old age, the oldest at age 20 and the youngest at age 16. It was sad to see them die, they were nice companions for the whole family, so we aren’t getting any more. We can live without cats.
Our cats were terrified of the chickens, even the younger ones. They would walk right around them. All you need are a few smart roosters. The neighbor told me she knows of weasel-type animals biting heads off various of their victims. I don’t need to lie to you or anyone else about what goes on here on our property. Kindly don’t project your dishonesty on to me.
I’m not a “cat advocate”, I just think that the problem of both wildlife and tame animals is too complicated to be solved by just killing everything that doesn’t suit someone’s image of a “balanced” ecosystem. What is so intelligent about getting vengeance on cats by torturing them to death just because they did that to other animals? Should I trap and torture the dogs who I saw chasing my chickens, killing them, and then running off? NO? What are you, some kind of a dog advocate?
I don’t know anything about cats attracting rodents or that theory you describe, but I have indeed read this before. Maybe it is true and maybe not. There’s all kind of theories running amok. I know that skunks keep small rodents in check. Everyone and his dog seems to hate them, but I don’t and am not scared of them. Also this rabies business is baloney. Bureaucrats wanting to sell antirabies vaccine for your pets.
There are grey foxes around here. I don’t know what I have to do to further encourage them. I just don’t want to find traps on our land placed by some asshole trappers, which is what you get when nicely-furred animals set up shop where you live. That’s all I need, to step into a leghold trap. However, they sure aren’t keeping our squirrels and rabbits in check, which our cats did. Since the cats died a few years ago, there has been a veritable explosion of rabbits and squirrels. Perhaps there aren’t enough foxes, I don’t know.
Grey foxes don’t kill introduced poultry? They sure killed a lot of them on my parents’ farm.
Humans who travelled to another part of the world far away from their ancestral homeland sometimes didn’t get there on their own steam and it could be argued that they therefore don’t belong there. The black slaves sure didn’t have the genetic code to make it to the New World. How would you handle this situation? The same way you want to deal with feral cats?
I think that the human species took a wrong turn somewhere and it’s going to take more than hostile gun lovers to come up with a truly sensible solution.
If a stranger invades my home, a pet dog will do something to help me. He will at least bark ferociously and may even attack the intruder. On the other hand, a pet cat will watch coolly and dispassionately from under the couch while I am hacked to death by the machete-wielding mestizo.
As someone once wrote, dogs look up to people, but cats look down on them.
I find that it is easier to be loyal to a creature that is loyal to me. I find that it is easier to love a creature that loves me.
Yes, I’m sure that yappy little Pomeranians and shih tzus will save you from intruders with large weapons. (Mind you, I did get bitten by a poodle once even though I wasn’t invading the home I was in.) I suspect that your hypothetical machete wielder would make short work of any of these dogs, however, try as they might to protect you. How many people have room for a large, vicious guard dog, I wonder, the kind you need.
Well, I am glad that you find it easier to love a creature that loves you. That’s logical, though it would not appear to apply to women as much. The most popular and best-treated women seem to regard males as garbage. Yet there’s a line of men forming around the block trying to get their attention. That’s the way it was in high school and that’s the way it still is.
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