TED Conversations

Jon Cox

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Cats pose a serious threat to biodiversity: Why do we accept it? What should be done?

According to the ASPCA, there are around 90 million owned domestic cats (Felis catus) in the U.S., and taking into account strays and feral cats, the total number is estimated to be as high as 160 million (1). Loss et al. (2013) estimates that cats roaming outdoors kill 1.4-­3.7 BILLION birds and 6.9­-20.7 BILLION mammals in the U.S. annually (2). Reptiles and amphibians such as snakes, lizards, frogs, etc., are also frequently killed by cats.

Cats are even more popular New Zealand, where they are contributing to declines of endemic birds such as the critically endangered kakapo (3), which have evolved in the absence of predators. Businessman/philanthropist Gareth Morgan is trying to gather support for legislation that would aggressively deal with stray and feral cats and potentially eliminate cats from New Zealand to take pressure off of threatened species (4 & 5). With Morgan’s plan, in addition to regulation that would reduce cat populations and increase owner accountability, residents would be encouraged to not replace their cats. As of now the majority of New Zealanders surveyed are in opposition to Morgan’s initiative.

Would a proposition like Morgan’s meet similar resistance in the U.S.? Probably, but is he on the right track? Would you personally support something like it for your state or country? Why or why not is it a good idea? Is this type of legislation necessary to curb the problem and protect wildlife? If you disagree, what are some alternatives? Will the aesthetics and familiarity of cats keep them off limits to such ideas in the opinions of the general public?

1. http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.aspx
2. http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/pdf/Loss_et_al_2013.pdf
3. http://www.avianweb.com/kakapo.html
4. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/01/24/170191917/new-zealand-environmentalist-wants-to-eliminate-cats-to-save-birds
5. http://www.livescience.com/26525-cat-eradication-new-zealand-save-birds.html

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Closing Statement from Jon Cox

Thanks to everyone who contributed to a thought provoking discussion!

I think we can all agree that we need to be responsible with our pets! For the sake of ecological and human health. And pet owners must realize that their carelessness is costly. Plans to completely eliminate cats from areas where they are very popular are pretty far fetched, but stricter regulation is a must, and domestic cats do NOT belong in the wild, period. Feral cats need to be seen and dealt with just as any other invasive species. However, extreme caution is necessary in any attempt to remove them where they have become established as a keystone species.

Check out Australian cat laws for a look at the legislation adopted by a people who cherish their native wildlife and do not want to see it be destroyed by invasives.

And lastly, we must keep in mind that invasive species are just one way in which we threaten biodiversity. Overexploitation and especially habitat loss pose even greater threats to species survival.

Thanks again!

Jon

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    Mario R

    • +4
    May 7 2013: I found an interesting article that highlighted the effects of reducing predatory effects in ecosystems. The article was talking about predatory chains and how the elimination of a top, or superpredator, might open the door for a different predator, or mesopredator, to take the original predator's place. This would in fact lead to the extinction of the prey. The example they looked at was an endemic bird population, and the superpredator were feral domestic cats.

    This got me to thinking about the effects of suppressing cats' activities outdoors. If something was done to regulate cats' outdoor liberties, would there be increases in predatory activity of a different species on the same prey?

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/2647217?seq=1
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      May 7 2013: Great point as usual, Mario.

      That was exactly the same line of thought that I was mulling over. For as long as there have been modern urban and suburban areas there have been cats present really. So I think it makes sense to think about it as though those environments and cats have co-evolved in a way. That means we have no real way of knowing what will happen if cats are eliminated from an area all together. Sure we can speculate that maybe those species preyed upon by the cats in those environments will recover greatly, but what's to say that some other species wouldn't come in to fill that niche vacated by the cats? The reality is that we really don't know what will happen until it does, and this unpredictability is why removal experiments are often so dangerous.

      The article Mario linked makes the good point that other predators often move in to such situations quickly, and in particular uses the example of rodents coming in to prey on the eggs of birds usually targeted by feral cats. I was able to find some more articles that addressed this phenomena of top predator removal harming an ecosystem overall, and I think they would be valuable to take a look at as it is a really counterintuitive but interesting viewpoint.

      1. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/276/1671/3249.short
      2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169534701021942
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        May 7 2013: Great point about urban/suburban environments co-evolving with cats present!
        Even in rural areas, as some have pointed out, farmers really need cats for pest control, and in America I don't really think cats can cause even a fraction of the damage they can cause in island environments. North America has always had plenty of predators that have interacted and co-evolved with potential prey species, whereas in New Zealand (and many other island nations) there have NEVER been endemic mammalian predators present for things to evolve defenses for, and such an introduction can vastly destabilize a system, even leading to extinction in some cases. The only predator i can find ever being from New Zealand was Haast's eagle which humans also drove to extinction, which, due to its diet of moa and corresponding huge size, was likely not a large source of predation for many of these smaller birds anyway- they were completely defenseless.
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      May 7 2013: What will be the predator that will partially fill the void of the cat superpredator? I ask this, for in many environments, cats are introduced, so they take advantage prey that have no natural predators or inefficient natural predators.
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    May 7 2013: "Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia."

    The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii or Toxo for short) and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis—the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death. T. gondii is also a major threat to people with weakened immunity: in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, before good antiretroviral drugs were developed, it was to blame for the dementia that afflicted many patients at the disease’s end stage. Healthy children and adults, however, usually experience nothing worse than brief flu-like symptoms before quickly fighting off the protozoan, which thereafter lies dormant inside brain cells—or at least that’s the standard medical wisdom.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/308873/
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      May 8 2013: Great Theodore, now i can sleep peacefully and worry-free while the cat helps me strengthen my immune system... ;-)

      cheers
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      May 8 2013: I found a recent review on this subject. If you have access, take a look.

      Influence of latent Toxoplasma infection on human personality, physiology and morphology: pros and cons of the Toxoplasma–human model in studying the manipulation hypothesis

      http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/1/127.abstract
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      Jon Cox

      • +1
      May 8 2013: T. gondii

      Brain damage and death in unborn babies, making adults sick and crazy, killing sea otters...
      Spread through cat poop from litterboxes, garden soil and unwashed food, ocean runoff

      And I'm not sure if it was mentioned, but cats are the definitive host for T. gondii. It cannot sexually reproduce in any environment other than the guts of felids.

      This is an interesting protozoan.
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        May 8 2013: I am curious if T. gonodii is present in every cat or just the majority of them? Because maybe there is a way to stop the protozoan from thriving inside cat guts. Then at least there would be a little less to worry about with the abundance of cats in our world.
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    May 7 2013: Attempting to find scholarly articles on this topic proved a little difficult, so I’ll just discuss some of my thoughts and attach the best piece of research I found on the topic.

    In island nations such as New Zealand I can understand the need for more extreme measures to control cat population due to the characteristics of many New Zealand fauna that make them more susceptible to cat predation. Some of these characteristics include small size, terrestrial foraging or breeding habit, and isolation in native habitat fragments.

    However, in urban environments I see more problems resulting from the extermination of cats. It is mostly small mammals, birds, and reptiles that are subjected to predation by cats. As much as I can appreciate the conservation of many species, do you really think that people in urban environments are going to be happy if urban populations of rodents and birds significantly increase?

    From what I have read there are some legislative controls on cat activities in different areas across Australia that have been going on for a decade. I think the best plan of action is to use these areas as case studies to fully understand the effects of removing cats from the ecosystem. I also think it is important to take each environment (urban, suburban, etc.) and consider the impacts on an individual basis. For example I think cat populations in urban environments, where we know diversity of species is already reduced due to human impacts and urbanization, play an important role at this point and without them pest populations could become an issue.

    http://www.envirolink.govt.nz/Envirolink-reports/1-NLCC1/468-HBRC54/.
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      May 7 2013: I agree with you Eleni. I'd like to add though that the usefulness of cats as pest regulators extends beyond urban environments. Many people living in the country, especially those with barns and sheds have cats to get rid of mice, and even birds that live in the rafters and the like. While yes, there also will likely be collateral damage with those species we are concerned about, there is also an undeniable benefit to a feline presence in both these areas and urban areas.
      As you said, people in these environments wouldn't be too happy to see rats running around, so the next alternative would likely be pesticides, which we know will have their own set of undesirable side-effects. While there are certainly downsides to having so many cats around, I believe it is a necessary evil. However, to help solve the problem, more animal control measures on feral cats could help reduce the unwanted deaths of native and threatened species.
      • May 7 2013: Hey Derek,
        where we live, in a woodsy, rural area, our cat has been undeniably handy in keeping the explosive rabbit population under control!
        And on a side note, our cat indirectly teaches my kids a valuable lesson of life and death. When they go outside to play, they are often confronted by half-eaten mouse/rabbit/bird carcasses. My initial instinct was to shield them from this 'horror', but that was impossible, and as it turns out, unnecessary. They accept that there are predators and prey, that animals have different needs than humans, and that where there is life, there is death. A cat symbolizes the raw aspects of nature that children need to be aware of.
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          May 8 2013: I agree, Lizanne. I grew up in the same sort of area. My parents still live there. No rabbits though. Mostly mice and voles. The moles and gophers I take care of myself when I'm around and have time for a stakeout.
          In addition to the lessons you mentioned, it also teaches people to watch where they step ;)
          Only had to make that mistake once...

          But anyway, back to you said, I totally agree and I think that that sort of realistic outlook is something kids are losing as more and more people live in cities. They never see what the real world is like outside of their sterile bubble.
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      Mario R

      • +2
      May 7 2013: While you bring up a good point Eleni, I think that rodents, and birds, both serve a purpose in urban environments. For example, squirrels, mice, and birds all aid in seed dispersal. By eliminating significant numbers in these populations, seed dispersal will be hindered.
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        May 7 2013: I agree with you Mario, I am sure they do play an important role in urban environments. Have you come across any news articles or scientific articles discussing a lack of these critters in urban areas? From personal experience I see lots of squirrels, mice, and birds around Eugene despite the large domestic cat population.
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          May 8 2013: i like the point you brought up eleni about how cats do keep certain populations down. Maybe the cat populations just need to be regulated for certain areas? That being said, is that even fair to do?
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    Jon Cox

    • +2
    May 7 2013: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/8565033/Sydney-imposes-cat-curfew-to-protect-native-wildlife.html

    Here is another interesting form of legislation from Australia. A curfew requiring cats to be indoors overnight to curb attacks on nocturnal wildlife.
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      May 7 2013: This is an interesting approach but I think this might be hard to implement. From my experience cats don't like to be controlled and usually roam around as they please. What if trying to control these cats leads them to become violent and attack their owners? Are we just creating more of an issue?
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        Jon Cox

        • +1
        May 7 2013: Yeah I wonder how you could even enforce it. I imagine registration is also mandatory there, so if your cat was found wandering around it could be traced back to you and you would get a nice big fine in the mail, and each offense results in a heftier fine until ultimately the city takes your pet away. Something like that, I bet! Would be neat to find out if the curfew plan was successful or not.
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    May 7 2013: I agree that something needs to be done to cut down the amount of killing that domestic cats do but I personally love cats and would not give them up.

    I have a few ideas about how to regulate the cat population (a few of which have been touched on earlier in this conversation)....

    1. We could make all domestic cats that are pets indoor animals only. There is really no good way to regulate this but I think more people would comply with this if it was law and if they were educated about why the law was going into effect.

    2. I think that cat owners should have to register their cat through a vet's office (with the vet reporting to a regional or national database). I see this registration involving having a chip injected into the cat as the registration number.

    3. Regulated domestic breeding - These people would have to apply for a license to breed and there could be a limited number of licenses per year per area (as they do with hunting tags). The kittens would all have to be reported and chiped by the vet after they are born and before they are sold to new owners.

    4. More funds and resources allotted to spay/neuter clinics for feral cats. With more resources and domestic cats being kept indoors we could drastically reduce the number of these cats roaming the streets.

    5. And finally, if the owner has no intent of breeding their cat they must spay/neuter them by a deadline.

    Does any of this sound feasible?
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      May 7 2013: A rule without enforcement is just a suggestion. Unless you somehow enforce this, there will be minimal compliance.

      I like the idea of having cats being registered at the vets office. A step further would to be to place a tax on cats. Those who own a cat would be taxed for owning one. The tax would be set at the same level of the social costs created by the cat. This way the owner can pay for externalities created by the cat. These funds can only be used for restoration and preservation in the environment that the cat damages.

      Some may not take their cats in for fear of this registration and not wanting to pay a tax. However, when a pet becomes sick then the individual will be morally obligated to take the cat to a vet. This will be the enforcement part of the law. It also applies for individuals who breed cats. Those who refuse to take their cats in will eventually do so. We could also subsidize spraying to keep cat populations down.

      In the end, government and the individual are held responsible, and the winner is the environment.
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        May 7 2013: I'm not sure about taxing pet owners of cats. That doesn't seem like something the public would pass due to the amount of taxes we already have. Although... you could make the cost of cats from breeders and those from the humane societies slightly higher (adding in the tax that way so it is just a one time fee when you buy the pet).

        I also think that it would be hard to pass all of these ideas at once (in the United States at least) but if one part of it could be passed and then research done to show effectiveness the public may be more invested in the tax or other regulations regarding cats.

        As far as taking in your cat to get registered.... You are right... Some people would simply oppose to this and others would call it government conspiracy to get ahold of personal information but as time goes on and breeders, humane societies, and citizens bring in their pets to get registered more and more will be registered. I do not imagine all of this happening overnight. It would take people a while to warm up to the ideas (and even to the fact that something needs to be done) as well as take an abundant amount of time to get all of these pets registered and the current strays and feral cats spayed and neutered.
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      May 7 2013: My main concern is that many of your proposals seem relatively expensive (either because of enforcement costs or the price of chips). While I like Alex's suggestion of a Pigouvian tax, I agree that it seems pretty unfeasible with the political atmosphere.

      I wonder if there are other, more cost-effective solutions. Someone mentioned developing a sort of birth control shot for cats earlier in the thread. While I don't know how long a shot could be effective, I think we should be focusing on solutions that are cheap and easily disseminated. Tracking down whether every pet owner keeps their cat indoors or fixes their cat just don't happen.
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        May 7 2013: How is a shot going to be more effective or less money than spaying/neutering your cat? And we know that spaying and neutering is effective birth control.

        I do realize that my solutions would cost money as does every other solution we are coming up with in this conversation so we again to that idea of putting a monetary value on ecosystems. How much are we willing to lose versus how much are we willing to invest in saving.
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          May 8 2013: Spaying and neutering is certainly effective, but can be costly (upwards of $50 a cat) and requires recovery time for the animal. I can't see a shot being more effective but certainly cheaper. Again, it's a flawed idea though due to the temporary nature of shot-based birth control.

          I didn't intend to disparage all of your ideas because of their cost. You're right that any solution will require some financial investment. I just wanted to point out that many of the ideas proposed on this thread would require a degree of enforcement that I don't see being funded. My hope is that someone might produce an idea for a cheap way to address the problem on a wide scale (I'm thinking syringe/needle exchange programs to reduce HIV as a model). A birth control shot is probably not it but I think it's along the lines of how we should be thinking, versus top down legislation that counters the sentiments of the majority of the population.
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    May 7 2013: I find it pretty ironic to call for the elimination of cats as pets because of their effect on bird biodiversity, when humans are directly causing the loss of so many other species. You could argue that legislation to limit the population of humans in the US should be implemented, because "it is for the greater good and humans are just too destructive to justify", but of course most people would not support that. Similarly, the majority of people will never support a decision to make cat ownership illegal. There has to be a balance. I do not think it is reasonable to force people to give up pets, a major source of enjoyment and entertainment (a provider of "cultural services", if you will) to protect other species that the general population, to be honest, probably doesn't care all that much about.
    I think the focus should be on public education and on feral cat population control. The people who are most likely to want to donate their time and resources to organizations that advocate things such as the protection of bird biodiversity are probably animal lovers, and therefore are likely to keep pets themselves. If we increased public education that let people know that regulating their cats' outdoor activities could lead to more beautiful birds gracing their feeders and yards, I think people would be much more receptive to the idea that cats harm bird biodiversity. As another person mentioned, putting bells on cat collars is a great idea. Outdoor cats without bell collars could result in their owners being fined, similar to the concept of keeping your dog on a leash. Finally, I think increased control on feral cat populations would have a big impact, especially in the US. One study found that over two years, trap-neuter-return approaches decreased feral cat populations by 36%; without TNR, populations increased 47% (Stoskopf & Nutter). It's not perfect, but it's a much more balanced and reasonable approach to this issue.
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      May 7 2013: Very well said. I had intended to create a post expressing similar sentiments, but you've saved me the trouble. :)
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      May 7 2013: I can also see the irony in the situation, and the reason there are so many cats destroying other species is because of human domestication and breeding so I think it's reasonable for a need for more regulation and accountability for cat owners and even the general public. I agree that there should be a focus on feral cat population control but honestly, from experience volunteering with an animal rescue group, there are just too many feral cats for people to deal with, at least the small amount of volunteers and workers that care enough to deal with them. But I agree that this issue should be more publicized because people probably don't realize how much of an impact their house pets can have on biodiversity. Maybe there should be a government funded program in each city for trap-neuter-return methods instead of rescue groups applying for grants and using finite resources to deal with the issue.
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      May 7 2013: I agree that it is silly for people to point the finger at cats when we are doing the most damage, it's just easier for us to fragment and change each destructive behavior rather than step back and see ourselves as a problematic species. I wonder if the law is harder on dogs because they have the potential to injure or kill humans and destroy property, whereas cats can only harm smaller organisms. If cats were as big as most dogs, there would certainly be a lot of restrictions. So much of our behavior and legislation is centered around human well being, with no regard for our neighbor species, that seems to be a theme of this class.
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        May 7 2013: You are right Ryan, humans are egocentric so lets use that to bring light to this issue. Conservation efforts can use that fact to not only inform the public of the harm that felines do to our ecosystems but also the danger they pose to us. Cat overpopulation can be linked to extinction but also the spread of disease to humans and other organisms.
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      May 7 2013: This is a great point, I wonder how the two threats compare in terms of scaling. Humans do more diversified and global damage for sure. They are also responsible for domestication and export of cats around the world. Rather than seeing cat-caused destruction as separate from human caused destruction, the loss of biodiversity due to cats is actually just an extension of human caused destruction.
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      May 7 2013: I do think that human populations need to be limited and that we could offer financial incentives to people who choose to have only one or two children.

      I think the focus has already been on public education and feral cat population control but that hasn't worked.

      The fact that we humans have introduced cats to environments that previously didn't have such excellent predators and that we let their numbers grow to the point of destroying other species is pointing the finger more so at humans than cats, they're just doing what comes naturally.
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        Jon Cox

        • +1
        May 7 2013: Exactly. It is not the animal's fault what so ever. It is a man made issue. Cats just do what they do, but we have engineered a serious problem by spreading them across the globe and turning a blind eye to the damage they do for so long. Destruction caused by domestic cats is just another way in which we are putting unsustainable pressure on our environment.
  • May 8 2013: I think overall Morgan's idea seems right; however, his way to address the issue was radical, especially, in terms of dealing with one of favorite pets for human being. First of all, people are not ecologists or biologists. Statistics and data do not open our minds and convince the importance of cat control. Number is just a number. For this issue, I think we need more political approach than science.
    As the first step, to make a documentary like the National Geography, or even TED Talk seems a good idea to convince people why we need a cat control for preservation wildlife. Such the visual information is, sometimes, more effective than a well written article. The next step will be to start indirect and passive controls. Legislation of registration and neutering of domestic cat is a good example. It does not really kill or actively remove cat by human hands, but it prevents that more escaped cats flow in the wild life system. Especially, Registration of cat with small under skin-implanted magnetic chip is important for next action to give strong responsibilities to cat holders. Based on registration of cats, we can give fines when finding cat holders with unneutered cats or holders who do not care cats properly. Additionally, taxation for cat holders is also good idea. This tax can be used for restoring destroyed wild life by cat and neutering street cats. Meanwhile, we can capture street cats and neuter them and send the humane society or adopt cats to people who want. This action is very important because at least, we have a good excuse that “we try to save cats by adoptions, but you guys do not want. Soooo, there is no option..”
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    May 8 2013: Morgan seems to be far to radical to attain success on a small isolated island like New Zealand, so there is no way he could be successful with this idea on a larger scale in the US. People have been known to protest over anything, and taking away one of their favorite "model" (cute) organisms is not going to go over well. I don't even think his methods are logical because a total eradication of any one species from an ecosystem is considered a threat to biodiversity. Even if cats are as dangerous as some researchers assume, they reside as a Keystone species due to their interactions. I don't think there is anything that would make this a reasonable course of action, but the idea of curtailing the effects of cats on biodiversity is sound. Regulation of cats could definitely be handled better, but I do not think that there is a way that all cats can be controlled and monitored. They are wild and many are feral or unregistered cats. Many people have large amounts of unrecorded animal births. Large proportions of these animals will escape or become wild, and once that happens they are impossible to control via the owners. This is a difficult species to monitor because of how close to our homes that it lives. They are right outside our door and people can see anything that we do to them. I'm having trouble figuring out a way that we could eliminate or use this species as we do others, but there is a huge amount of public support for animal safety and regulations on animal cruelty. This animal is too "cute" to use simple strategies of population control, so it might be an invasive species that we have to live with.
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      May 8 2013: I tend to agree that we may just have to live with the problem. The amount of resources it would take to attempt to create a society paradigm shift in how cats are regarded (as "cute" pets, not vermin) is prohibitive and would likely meet with failure anyway. In any event, applying an extreme solution to a moderate problem is illogical. I unfortunately am unable to offer a better solution at this time, but I think that if a solution exists, we must seek it out using a balanced approach.
  • May 8 2013: I agree chipping cats and registering them seems like a great idea. I think Morgan's suggestion is very extreme and I don't see that working out here. Since cats cannot be contained like dogs it would be best if a law could be passed that all cats had to be spayed or neutered unless the owner had a special permit for breeding. I see this being very hard to control though since cats roam free and its hard to tell if cats even belong to anyone sometimes. The only other way I see something like this really working would be to go out and spay and neuter every cat we find but that would be very costly and then we also face cat extinction which I imagine will create a huge increase in rodent problems and more. Cats shouldn't disappear we just need to find a happy medium!
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      May 8 2013: I agree with you and I said similar things in an earlier post. I did want to make one comment though.... We do already have a system in place to capture and spay/neuter stray and feral cats. I have helped participate in the program and a lot of good is done by this. We have seen the population of feral/stray cats reduced in areas where we did this. Volunteer vets do the procedures and college students provided a lot of the extra help as well as community members. If we could expand this program we could vastly decrease the wild population.
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        May 8 2013: This is really cool! Im wondering how this is applied on the national scale and what percentage of feral/strays are tagged or neutered. How many feral/ strays are born from stray parents and how many just escape from a domesticated environment? Is this system also implemented for dogs, or is it primarily just for cats?
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      May 8 2013: I like your idea of having a law passed for spaying and neutering all cats, unless you are a breeder. I also agree that there should be some control for the feral cats. However, cats are a keystone species and without them there could be disruption to other species. Complete eradication is a drastic move, so I agree that there needs to be a happy medium.
  • May 8 2013: ANYONE need only Google for: Loews Hotels Feral Cats, if they want to see just what kind of whack-jobs these people are. More problems than their cats.

    After reading what they did to the owners of Loews hotels, any sane person realizes to not bring these TNR sociopaths and psychopaths right to your door.

    Another replay of what these cat-licker-sociopaths did to Loews Hotels: www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-stray-cats-20121026,0,6245372.story

    A $150 million renovation project for low-income housing, put on hold, jobs lost, money lost, homeless still homeless, court costs and lawyers, just to save a few of their feral vermin cRats. And the saddest part of all, the vast majority of these TNR'ed cats had already died heinous inhuman deaths from TNR-practitioners' OWN "death by attrition" mantra. (Road-kill, diseases, parasites, injuries, environmental poisons, cat & animal attacks, exposure, etc.)

    Similar scenarios can be found across the globe every month by Googling for feral cats and churches, universities, hospitals, shopping centers, malls, apartment-complexes, etc., etc. Cat-lickers think that any property on which a cat has stepped foot is their own property and they can control every life and law on it.

    This is precisely why everyone is learning to destroy all cats on their properties as quickly and quietly as possible. Telling nobody beforehand about the cats even being there. Long before these psychotic cat-lover sociopaths and psychopaths get wind of the cats. Shoot cats first, tell no-one later. Because the only thing worse than feral cats are feral cat-lickers. You can legally shoot the former, not the latter. You need to pay lawyers and courts to get rid of the latter. THEN you can get rid of their cats. And the sad part is, that's EXACTLY what happens, each and every time.

    People are wising-up. If ANY cats are around they destroy every last one of them first before they make any other move. All thanks to these cat-advocates.
  • May 8 2013: The ONLY veterinarians and groups supporting the COMPLETELY INHUMANE practice of TNR are those that financially benefit from all the hundreds of thousands of dollars that PetSmart and other petfood companies hand-out as "seed money" cash-grants and pleas for donations by exploiting suffering animals. The more suffering cat-mouths that they can all keep alive to torture to death by "attrition" and torture all wildlife to death with their cats, the more they all benefit financially. This is ONLY about the money being made by letting cats and animals suffer to death.

    THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HUMANE NOR ECOLOGICALLY CORRECT ABOUT TNR.

    ALL respectable veterinarians and others with the least bit of credible education and morality speak out strongly against TNR. Educate yourselves as well about this morally reprehensible TNR "business".

    You can start the process by Googling for these postings (include the quotes for each full search-string):

    "The TNR Con-Game"
    (Lists and dispels some of the most prevalent lies told by all TNR cat-hoarders.)

    "Be cautious about using any cats taken from outdoors for adoption"
    (Why rabid cats are now being adopted right from shelters.)

    "Here's another fun aspect of TNR that TNR LIARS never bother to tell anyone"
    (TNR con-artist liars are now clipping cats ears only without sterilizing nor vaccines to save money and protect any stray cat from being trapped and euthanized, proof is included in that post.)

    Bonus Info: Now you'll know the underlying reason why cat-lickers do this in the first place. Even they aren't aware of why they are more than happy to throw their cats under the wheels of moving cars and still claim they love cats, and why they can't stop themselves from doing so. Google for (include quotes):

    Cats "Human Territorial Behavior By Expendable Proxy"
  • May 8 2013: After 15 years of trying to reason with criminally negligent cat-lickers, I learned my lesson (at the loss of nearly all the native wildlife on my lands that were tortured or starved to death by their invasive species vermin cats). You can't train a cat to stay home; but I found that, in time; you CAN train a disrespectful, inconsiderate, and criminally irresponsible neighbor into being a responsible, considerate, and respectable adult. One who finally takes care of their animals like any responsible grown-up would.

    Google for this complete string, as-is, including all quotes:

    "Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem." AND "I don't see anyone dumping cats where I live anymore." AND "irreversible consequences"

    Therein you'll find a humane answer that works 100%, is affordable by any individual or size of community, and the cat problem is completely resolved PERMANENTLY in less than 2 seasons. Guaranteed.

    People who let cats roam free only do so because they think their disease-ridden INVASIVE SPECIES cats are going to live idyllic lives chasing and torturing animals (valuable native species) or someone else will take care of their vermin cat for them. If they realize that that cat will die within hours or days from them having dumped it or letting it roam free, the dumping and free-roaming of cats stops 100%. They can't just believe it MIGHT happen, they have to KNOW that IT WILL HAPPEN. It worked where I live.

    Did I mention that you have to ignore every last thing these deranged invasive species lovers spew to the world? That's the MOST important part. Asking them for advice and help to solve the problem they created and are hellbent on perpetuating is as foolish as asking your local career thieves for advice and help to hide your valuables from their daily motives and activities. That's where I made a foolish error for 15 years. Don't make the same mistake I did. Just do what needs to be done and the problem is solved -- PERMANENTLY.
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      May 8 2013: Sounds like somebody is allergic to cats! >^..^
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      Jon Cox

      • +2
      May 8 2013: Thanks for the passionate contribution! Eye opening info for sure!

      Good on Arkansas for getting that trap program going. I hope it is working.
  • May 8 2013: Eliminating all cats from New Zealand is, to put it simply, unrealistic. The simplest and most humane way to deal with the cat problem in New Zealand is to require all cats sold to be spayed or neutered, as well as spaying and neutering all strays caught. Of course, people would probably still be able to register as breeders and not be required to spay/neuter, but that's beside the point.
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    May 8 2013: When I first saw the large numbers of species that are being killed by cats, I was so surprised. I usually just think of cats as house pets just playing with mouse toys or laying around sleeping. There definitely needs to be something done to decrease the negative effects that cats have on the biodiversity around them, but I think Morgan's idea of completely eradicating cats in New Zealand is a very radical idea that would probably never gain acceptance. I do, however, agree with his idea of requiring all cats to be chipped. I know that there are already some breeders that have the cats chipped before selling them; when I got my cat, he came with a chip already. I think the chips make it a lot easier for owners to know where their cats are, making them easier to regulate.

    A few people have suggested to make all cats be indoor cats, but I don't know how this could really be regulated, as it is mainly up to the owners discretion whether they let their cats out or not. I also think that it is unfair to the cats to not let them roam around outside every once in a while. It would be cool if some sort of contraption was made that would allow cats to spend time outside, but limit how far they can go.
    • May 8 2013: You're right. Turning criminally irresponsible people into responsible ones with laws doesn't work. They're already criminally irresponsible. Criminals don't obey laws. They just don't care, about anyone nor anything, but what they want for themselves.

      Google for this complete string, as-is, including all quotes, for the answers you seek:

      "Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem." AND "I don't see anyone dumping cats where I live anymore." AND "irreversible consequences"

      That lengthy posting starts with the paragraph of:

      "Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem. If cats are required to be licensed then cat-lovers just stop putting collars on their cats, as they did by me. And they won't even bother getting them micro-chipped, especially not that They want absolutely nothing that can hold them legally responsible, liable, and accountable for the actions of their cats. It's why many of them even keep cats in the first place. We're not talking about the topmost responsible citizens of the world, you know. They don't want that responsibility of what their cat has done coming back on them. If they had even one iota of a sense of responsibility and respect for all other lives on this planet we wouldn't even be having these discussions."
    • May 8 2013: Clarissa, I agree with your views of Morgan's initiative. Chipping cats would be very effective in aiding in the loss of a runaway cat, but also allows for domesticated cats to have a chance every once in a while to not be stuck outside. A cat owner wouldn't have gotten a cat in the first place if he/she didn't want to have an animal that was, well, happy. In 2012, Washington D.C.'s mayor presented the idea of an indoor cat park, much like a dog park, to take care of this problem of indoor cats being allowed outside part time to socialize and explore. This would help reduce the problems of a loved family pet becoming a problem.

      http://www.pawnation.com/2012/09/14/dcs-mayor-suggests-cat-parks/
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    May 8 2013: I, like many believe that making sure cats are spayed or neutered is the most realistic and efficient method for controlling cats, both domesticated and feral. Yes of course this doesn't immediately solve the issue with cats killing birds and other small mammals, but running around and catching/killing cats is inhumane and there is no way such a proposal would pass. As of now, the most common method of control used is the trap, neuter and return method. According to the Humane Society it is a "...non-lethal strategy to reduce the number of feral cats and improve the quality of life for cats, birds, wildlife, and people."(1) Not only do they neuter the feral cats that have been caught, they are also vaccinated for rabies. To recognize a feral cat that has been neutered and vaccinated, they surgically tip one of the cats ears. There is no doubt such a method of control would take it's time to show positive results. Cats that have been neutered continue to kill birds and mammals, but as far as I see it there is no other likely plan. Of course TNR procedures cost money, and unfortunately "TNR is a strategy that many dedicated caretakers pay for out of their own pockets to help improve the lives of feral cats and reduce their numbers."(1) An effective TNR plan also requires a dedicated caretaker, which also cost money. Perhaps, like others have mentioned, there could be a tax payed by either cat owners or cat breeders which helps cover these costs.


    1. http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cats/qa/feral_cat_FAQs.html#What_is_TrapNeuterReturn_TNR
    • May 8 2013: The board-members of HSUS and SPCA are laughing all the way to their bank by exploiting suffering animals with TNR programs. You won't get any credible information from them. Their pockets and conflict of interests are just too deep.
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      May 8 2013: I agree with Justin that spaying and neutering cats is the best plan we have today to reduce the number of feral cats and reduce the number of wildlife killed by them. A tax on breeding or owning cats would also likely reduce the number of new cats and help control the current population. I think this method of reducing the number of cats combined with keeping cats indoors or keeping a closer eye on them outdoors would make a noticeable impact on reducing bird and small mammal deaths.
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    May 8 2013: I think outdated attitudes around pets are a major part of the problem. HIstorically, cats served a very important function in some communities: controlling rodent functions. However, it doesn't take a cat in every household to do this. Cats for individual households is the result, I would argue, of the shift in thinking toward nuclear families and an individual-centered society. Maybe a significant part of reducing the high number of cats is to re-imagine pet ownership as a community activity. Although anecdotal, I have noticed that many of the cats in my neighborhood hang around lots of different houses in the neighborhood; they are already communal. Sharing cats would reduce the amount of cats dramatically!
    Moving from cars to public transportation has been hampered by cultural priorities around car ownership as much as by infrastructure and scientific difficulties. Are pets an analogous situation, in which it is our ideas of pet ownership, not necessarily our technical solutions to pet over population, that need re-imagined?
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      May 8 2013: I myself like cats but am more of a dog person. I think that cat sharing would be awesome! It would be cheaper to own a cat for one thing and it would greatly reduce the problem with the number of cats. It would be harder to do in smaller towns because everyone is more spread out but in cities and places like Eugene I think it would work. But, again I am not really a cat person and for people that LOVE cats I think the idea may not go down so nicely. Maybe someone that really is a cat person could share their feelings on this idea.
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        May 8 2013: This is a really cool idea! I know quite a few people who buy a cat and love it at first but... when the magnitude of the responsibility really sets in they itch to get rid of it. By having some sort of pet sharing program one could set aside a couple of weeks or months to have a cat and decide if they really want one or if it's not for them.
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      May 8 2013: Hi Carson,

      You touch on a great point: Pets became like many other pieces of private property: initially we own as much as we need, but after a while it gets to a point when it is no longer about what we need, but about showing that we can always buy and own more in quantity and more expensive pets. And where there is demand, animal breeders will step in with supply

      Sadly, for some people shared ownership (what used to be the commons) is a dreaded concept... and some might worry that starting with pets could lead down a slipery slope towards one of those terrible -isms... where people might start thinking about sharing food, shelter, resources... scary indeed!

      ;-)

      cheers
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        May 8 2013: Yup. Yes there are lots of responsible animal lovers out there whose pets are their best friends, however pets have largely become just another possession or toy, a compulsory thing to own. And when the owner is irresponsible the pet and other living things suffer. My next door neighbors own about 5 dogs, which they just ignore or yell at most of the time, and the house across from them has several as well, and there are so many cats wandering around my neighborhood at any given time. It is crazy. There are probably at least as many pets on my street as there are people.
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    May 7 2013: From what I have read in this conversation it sounds like Australia is the leading nation in cat control... perhaps they will save us when cats inevitably try to take over the world ;) In all seriousness though, we should definitely be taking notice of Australia's efforts and possibly follow their lead. It is outrageous to think that anyone is going to be willing to get rid of their cat(s) to save a few birds from being killed in their backyard, as that is how the average person will view the situation, so we have to come up with a better solution.

    While the cats are technically the ones doing all the killing, humans are truly the ones to blame, as we are the ones who first brought cats to the US and we are the ones allowing them to cause as much damage as they are causing. I think that the government should require cat owners to have a stricter control on their pets, possibly implementing laws that require cats to be on a leash when outside, or making it illegal for cats to be outside altogether.
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      May 8 2013: I do agree that there should be some type of regulation on cat ownership. Maybe there could be a law that you can only have one cat per household, or try to slow the reproduction of cats for a few years by getting many female cats spaded and require everyone that wants to own a cat get it from the pound or some other program for stray/feral cats. That might eliminate the need to use euthanasia to take care of the stray/feral cat problem that is talked about in the comment above.
      I think that it is just kind of unreasonable to make a law to have indoor cats or have cats on a leash outside. I know many outside cats and if they were not free to roam as they please they would freak out. And it would be so easy to break a rule like that and very hard to regulate. Maybe there could be a registry for the percent of cats that are spade per state and have a lower limit on the percent.
      Over all this is going to be a very hard idea to get people on board with because like you said, people that love their cats are going to choose their cats over the loss of birds and mammals.
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      May 8 2013: Yes, I agree with your idea that people are the ones to blame and are the source of this problem. Instead of eliminating the cat, I think the most effective way is to keep invasive cat indoors. This is a mutually beneficial solution. This can eliminate the threat of cat predation and also protect cats themselves. According the to American Humane Society, cats that are allowed to roam outside live an average of 3 years while indoor cats typically reach an average age of 15 years. Humane traps can also work to trap visiting cat and transport them to local animal shelter safely. This works well for stray or troublesome cats.
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    May 7 2013: sterilize the existing cats...concerned citizens may volunteer to pay for the sterilization of strays..and there could be a fine as in China (forchildren) for creating more cats through neglect.or carlessness///as well as a fund for those who plead poverty for not spading their cat...everybody wins...vets would be the regulating body in all this change.....as a small business owner i am forced to collect taxes for my government...so I cant see why vets cant oversee cat reproduction
  • May 7 2013: Somepeople like cats. Rats don't. Not much of an answer, but isn't that part of the problem?
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      May 7 2013: I agree. Who knows if the increase in cats has actually made a positive influence on some of the rat and rodent species. If we eliminate the cats would we have an overpopulation of rodents?
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        Jon Cox

        • +1
        May 8 2013: It has happened before : ]

        http://habee.hubpages.com/hub/Cats-and-the-Black-Plague

        Kinda long but interesting...

        "The Catholic Church was the most powerful entity in Europe at the time, and the masses were consumed with the presence of evil and eradicating it in any form it might be believed to take. Because of their secretive nature and their ability to survive extraordinary circumstances, the general population came to fear cats as consorts of Satan. The innocent cats began to be killed by the thousands.

        The cats ultimately got their revenge, of course. Since there were few felines left, the rat populations increased unchecked, and the plague grew even more widespread. You’d think that the humans would make the connection by this point, but instead, they made things even worse. They began to associate the plague’s new vigor with the cats and even with dogs. They believed that since both of these animals typically harbored fleas, they must be the cause of the plague. Subsequently, cats were outlawed in many parts of Europe, and huge numbers of cats and dogs were killed. In fact, at one point in the middle ages, there were barely any cats left in England at all.

        Even though cat ownership was illegal in some regions, a few people kept their felines. Other people finally noticed that these cat owners often seemed to be immune to the black plague. Word spread quickly, and more observations of this phenomenon were noticed. This resulted in research, crude as it was during the time.

        Eventually, it was decided that the rats, not the cats, were responsible for spreading the black plague. Then, of course, everyone wanted to own a cat or two. And since cats are prolific breeders, it didn’t take long for the demand to be satisfied. The laws which had been the cats’ death sentence were repealed. In many regions, a new law took its place – one that protected felines instead of banning them and almost causing their extinction in Europe."
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    May 7 2013: I don't debate the damage cats do to small animal populations but an issue surrounding this is poverty.Putting aside people that just don't care, do pet owners have any less right to the companionship of cats (or any animal) because they are not educated or financially able to be responsible owners? Government subsidies and enforcement of neutering and spaying might be a real answer to this question. I am just not sure if this is where funds should be allocated though. Another issue is the threat cats pose to human health. Most people don't have the money (or the insurance) to see the doctor let alone take their cat to have regular checkups and the fact is they carry gastrointestinal parasites like helminths and protozoa that are dangerous for pregnant women and people with suppressed immune systems. Maybe if this becomes a human health issue it will get more serious attention and thought from a broader spectrum of people.

    "Gastrointestinal Parasites in Domestic Cats" Cohell et al. (2012) http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/34781/InTech-Gastrointestinal_parasites_in_domestic_cats.pdf
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      May 7 2013: I think you are absolutely right that this issue would become more visible to the public if it were framed as one of human health, which I think it totally will become as more research comes out on the topic. Everything out there on the negative effects that domestic cats have on humans seems quite recent. It all seems to be pointing in the same direction at this point though and I have to think that sooner or later these studies will catch enough attention for this to become a major issue.
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        May 7 2013: Visible to the public is one thing, and legislation is another. Which do you think is more important? Gaining the attention of the public and pursuing whatever course of action seems most supported? Or putting legislation in place that addresses what the research shows? Or another strategy altogether?

        This conversation brings the tension between the inherent value of life and the subjective value we place on "charismatic megafauna" pretty starkly to light. Which should be more important in informing our laws?
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    May 7 2013: A proposition similar to Morgan’s would be met with similar, if not harsher resistance in the United States. Our country was founded on independence from government, which still is present in a lot of America. Our idea of having the “freedom” to choose what we want to do, although sometimes limited in today’s America, is backed by this thought of being independent, and being able to live your life without the government knocking on your door.

    Is Morgan on the right track though? Absolutely. Cats are acting as an invasive species for the kakapo and other bird species, which is severely affecting the biodiversity on New Zealand. This can disrupt many ecosystems if cat populations are not reduced, which may prove to be more costly in the long-term for New Zealanders. But who are we to point the fingers at cats? Humanity is responsible for more biodiversity loss than any other species on Earth.

    I think it’s a start of a good idea. Government intervention is crucial if we are to curb the bad habits of humanity, even if it is against the constituency. Sadly, many problems like these are political, and people do not wish to lose their paid political positions.

    Rather than a strict command and control policy of banning cats, why not levy a tax with cats? Felines that are not documented may become documented when taken into the vet. A yearly tax on owning a cat may persuade others to limit the amount of cats they own. Tax revenue generated from this plan can only be used strictly for restoration and preservation of many habitats so that it can protect the vulnerable bird species. This not only holds government responsible for the environment, but also the individual so they can think of the social costs of owning cat, and not solely the private costs. In the long run, this plan may prove to be efficient in protecting biodiversity, even more so that Morgan’s plan of just banning cats.
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      May 7 2013: I like your idea of levying a tax against cat owners, but I'm skeptical that the tax alone would sufficiently incite responsible pet ownership. Sadly, many people opt to abandon their pets in the wild after incurring expenses that they either can't afford (or won't) pay, so I worry that a tax would increase instances of pet abandonment. In addition to carrying some undesirable moral implications, it would also have the potential to exacerbate the very problem it was designed to fix.

      Although I cannot presently offer a better solution (this will require more thought and research), I believe this problem will need to be solved with a multifaceted approach. The solution will need to encourage personal responsibility over one's own cats (or restrict cat ownership to those who can demonstrate it, perhaps), balance the tax in a way that would discourage abandonment, and simultaneously account for the fact that many policy changes have the potential to be self-defeating. This solution is not an easy one.
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    May 7 2013: The proposed eradication of cats is rather radical, and I doubt it would ever pass favorably in the public eye. A better solution would be education of the public about the destruction their pets cause when allowed outside (this is the real issue, cats are generally harmless if confined indoors). If there were stronger laws in place about spaying/neutering, this would help control both the domestic and feral cat populations. A trap-and-release (where feral cats are trapped, spayed/neutered then released) program is already in place in the US (not sure about New Zealand) but this is a good way of humanly eliminating populations that most people find easier to stomach than flat out killing them. Having indoor-only policies would also be effective, not only at protecting wildlife but also the cats themselves. It is actually rather inhumane to allow your cat to be outdoors, especially in urban environments. Their life expectancy drastically decreases, due to high risk of getting hit by cars, attacked by predators, and contracting disease.

    One solution besides laws that can help protect native species from contact with cats is to construct barriers that block areas of land set aside as reserves for these native animals. In the early 1900's, a 2,050 mile long fence was constructed in Western Australia called the Rabbit-Proof Fence. Originally designed to keep the rampant rabbit population in control, it has also been effective at keeping other pests like dingoes and feral goats off farmland and native habitats. This fence is still in use today. If you constructed something like this in New Zealand to keep feral/outdoor cats out of reserved land it would allow native species a chance to recover.
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    May 7 2013: In order to reduce the threats of biodiversity caused by cat, there are several ways could be done. It is people's right to keep cats as pets and asking people not to keep cats is not a good idea. But we can ask them to hold their cats and do not let them hang out anywhere. If under owner's supervision and they also eat full everyday, they won't attack birds or other animals.

    Furthermore, the feral and stray cats are the main cause of extinction of some birds or species. But cats is also a component of food web, which just as a predator of birds to prevent birds numbers too large to harm plants. But for the endangered species, they can easy to be extincted. So they need to be protected from cats. However, it is not necessary to eliminate cats. You can just prevent cats from that endangered species habitat by putting something that cats are afraid to. For instance, like I studied in conservation biology, to protect habitats from elephants, just introduce some bees because elephants do not like bees. So I think the alternative strategy is to make cats away from endangered species habitats.
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      May 7 2013: Good point about fear. The first thing that comes to mind is that cats are afraid of water... Maybe cat owners should be required to purchase a motion-censored squirt gun/sprinkler that they then place near bird feeders? Or owners could have the option of writing into, say, the Audubon Society, who sends them one free of charge?

      I have also heard the suggestion that owners can scatter citrus peels (oranges and lemons), or spray a mixture of citrus oil and water. Apparently, cats hate it.
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      Mario R

      • +1
      May 7 2013: What about leash laws? I think that leashing up those cats would do wonders to restrain them from attacking the local fauna. This would require owners to closely regulate their pets instead of simply letting them frolic about unattended.

      I also like the idea that a few people have discussed of obligatory micro chipping. This way cat owners can be aware of their animals' whereabouts and can closely monitor them.
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        May 7 2013: I agree! These cats need leashes! When I'm out there walking my boys on their leashes they always get really jealous when they see those cats strutting around free. And my dogs don't like it either! LOL!

        God Bless

        -Todd C.
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      May 7 2013: Yes, I agree with the idea of fear to drive cats away from endangered species habitat. House cats can be seen as invasive species to a wildlife-friendly yard. Even when cats are full, their instinct can drive them to hunt and kill available prey, such as birds, insects, insects and small amphibians. However, there is no reason we should eliminate them since we cannot protect other endangered species under the cost of threatening existing species. By using the fear of cat, people can use water to deter cat. Just as Becca pointed out, people can use a gentle spray of water from a water pistol. This is an inexpensive way to vacate from wildlife-friendly habitat. Other ways such as motion-activated sprinklers at entrance points, cat-proof fencing, and thorny brambles under feeders may also work to prevent house cats from other species’ habitat. Most importantly, I think people should keep their cats indoors most of the time and when they are out should be under surveillance. This method is mutually beneficial for cats and birds outside. One study also pointed out an alternative method by using ultrasound deterrents. This method can eliminate the use of physical barriers and the ultrasound should be specifically for cat. The device use motion/heat detectors for cat. However, this method is a little expensive but work out efficiently with time. Cats are learning to avoid gardens or habitat with these active devices.
      You can check out the ultrasound study here:
      http://www.conservationevidence.com/individual-study/142
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        May 7 2013: I like your idea about deter cats by water and ultrasound. And considering the cost is necessary.
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    May 6 2013: Actually in NSW those proposals are pretty much actually law and apply to both cats and dogs. It's illegal to sell kittens or puppies unless you are a registered breeder and they are all supposed to be chipped and neuterred unless the purchaser is a registered breeder.
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      May 7 2013: This unfortunately doesn't stop the "underground" business of puppy mills, nor the selling or giving away of puppies/kittens by people when their pet accidentally becomes pregnant.
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        May 7 2013: Granted no law stops people breaking the law but in other states in Australia it goes even further. In victoria you can be fined for allowing your cat to become pregnant.
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      Jon Cox

      • +1
      May 7 2013: From what I have read Australia seems to be leading the way in cat regulation for the sake of native wildlife. This is really admirable and I hope it catches on globally!
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        May 7 2013: Yes over here so much of our native wildlife is endemic that we pretty much accept the culling of feral cats and dogs as well as feral horses pigs buffalo etc. We have alot to lose.
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          May 7 2013: Definitely. Keep up the good work! Since I was young I've wanted to visit Australia to see some of the amazing plants and animals there. One of these days...

          Unfortunately I would bet money that the average adult in the U.S. wouldn't be able to name a single plant or animal endemic to this country. We all have a lot to lose, and most people don't realize it.

          Also, I was surprised to learn that Australia has the largest population of wild camels in the world, and they are not even native!
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        May 8 2013: The camels came in as beasts of burden but were let loose when superceded by trucks. Now they are exported for meat and racing in the Middle East, aswell as culled when necessary.
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    May 6 2013: This idea seems a little radical, yet, possibly something to seriously consider. Before we go cutting out all house pet population, though, I think it's important to educate the general population importances of biodiversity and the serious affects cats are having on it. After that, I think more research needs to be done on some ways to approach this idea. That could include research like surveying which species of cats are more likely to decimate animal population, if there are some places or environments in which cats are more likely to kill birds or amphibians than in others, or if its possible to train cats to not eat/kill other creatures (doubtful but maybe worth looking into). I think something does need to be done but I'm not a huge cat lover, so it's hard for me to really be concerned about losing to many of them. But if it was a dog it'd be different for me. Tough topic because many people consider cats apart of their families. but I think there're systematic adjustments that can be made where humans can enjoy their cats still, and, where cats won't be as destructive to the creatures they prey on.
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      May 7 2013: I agree with most of your statement, but I tend to think that the eradication of all cats is too extreme of an option to merit much consideration at all. As another poster already pointed out, if we consider exterminating one species because it poses a threat to biodiversity as a legitimate solution to this problems, then in fairness, we must apply that same standard to the species that poses the GREATEST threat to biodiversity - humans. Although that would realistically never happen, that standard could still be applied to other species (like dogs, whose population has a well documented impact on the environment). Where do we draw the line?

      Additionally, it's possible that eliminating or reducing the population of domestic felines will have negative ramifications to other ecosystems that will be very difficult to predict. There are many passive relationships between lifeforms on this planet that remain unseen, and if we start pulling on "loose threads", significant portions of the tapestry of nature could come undone.
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      May 8 2013: I love the idea of researching which types of cats are more prone to hunting than others. I think someone may have already mentioned this but perhaps we could even breed more docile cats. We could do breeding programs with current cat breeds, selecting for docility. That way, we could maintain cat diversity (since people like the looks of different breeds) and if successful, people could keep their cats and the stress to biodiversity would be diminished.
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    May 6 2013: Cats are made to kill. It's what they do. We have domesticated a creature that is genetically predisposed to stalk and kill. If we do not allow the cat to stalk and kill it becomes neurotic. We then bag and drown them, or turn them loose in the park. Our local riparian park had a population of burrowing owls who thrived for a few years then suddenly began to disappear. Park officials determined feral cats were killing the owls faster than they could reproduce. Now all we have is many vacant owl nests and scores of mangy, diseased killer cats prowling the park. If anyone was caught trying to take it upon themself to remedy the situation they would be criminally prosecuted and vilified on the evening news. Cat lovers unite and control your cats just as dog owners are legally bound to control theirs.
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      May 7 2013: It sounds like you know something about cats, which I don't. Is this dependent on type of cat? For example, my sister has three indoor cats that aren't neurotic at all. They obviously are not killing things.

      I do know something about dogs. It is in their nature to chase things and to chew on things and even tear them apart. So one gives them things (not owls!) that are okay to chew, chase, and even tear apart. Otherwise, they would likely find something in the house to chew and destroy.

      Does it not work for cats?
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        May 7 2013: I am guilty of generalizing a bit Fritzie. I'm sure my scenario does not describe 100% of the world's domesticated cats. But it does describe the scenario that leads to the elimination of other species from a given location. It is a very real problem. Next time you visit your sister take a little bird or a mouse with you and watch the emergence of the cat's natural behaviors which your sister has so successfully suppressed. Dogs might kill to survive, or if bred specifically to be violent. As evidenced by the dead, dismembered, but uneaten birds in my yard cats stalk and kill for practice, it's what they do naturally. I cannot have bird feeders in my own yard because neighborhood cat owners do not control their furry little cold-blooded killers. Ugly but true.
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          May 7 2013: My yard has lots of squirrels and birds but never cats. Woodland critters have no fear of my dog, but cats do.
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      May 7 2013: Honestly, I have always kept indoor-only cats (it is safer and healthier for them) and they have never gone neurotic. You replace their natural prey with cat toys and they can stalk and kill just as they please, it is a perfect substitute. While cats were made to kill, not all of them still know how to. Some of my cats in the past have been very good at alerting us when a strange critter has entered the house, and they may show interest and play with it, but when it comes down to the killing part they are clueless. It is true, however, that once a cat has been roaming outside and you try to confine it indoors it will beg to go outside and may become neurotic. But if they are raised indoors and never taken outside, no problems.

      Edward, you bring up a very interesting point about the rules dog owners face. Why is it that dog owners have many laws that control their pets (from leash laws to breed bans) but cat owners have none? A curious discrepancy...
  • May 6 2013: Absolutely people are going to resist an idea like this, people love their pets. I think that he is on the right track; some kind of regulation with these cats needs to be done. I agree with targeting stray and feral cats and an increasing owner accountability. Total elimination of the cat however I do not think is likely. An attempt to regulate stray and feral cats would be an easier task to tackle. On average they kill more birds than pet cats and will probably be met with less resistance than attempting to regulate peoples pets. Places where feral cat eradication has been successful have been islands (see link). Feral cats are particularly damaging to islands, especially seabirds which form tightly packed nesting groups that can be easily destroyed. An example of a successful eradication happened on the island Marion. Marion is an uninhabited island and the eradication process took 15 years to complete. The review attached, from Conservation Biology, shows that this can be done on the small scale, but transferring it to the US or trying to just eradicate the feral cats and not pet cats will undoubtedly prove to be a very difficult undertaking.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00442.x/full
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    May 6 2013: -=The Dangers of Cat Poop=-

    People who come in contact with cat poop are at a serious risk of being infected with the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. This is a permanent infection that lays dormant in your body by forming cysts in nervous (aka your brain) and muscle tissue.

    Prognosis of people infected:
    - Increased rate of risk-taking personality traits
    - Higher incidence of automobile accidents (Webster et al., 2013)
    - Increased risk of OCD, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and suicidal tendencies

    Symptoms in rats:
    - Infected rodents show a reduction in their innate aversion to cat odors

    WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP THIS MADNESS!?

    Webster, JP; Kaushik, M; Bristow, GC; McConkey, GA (2013 Jan 1). "Toxoplasma gondii infection, from predation to schizophrenia: can animal behaviour help us understand human behaviour?". The Journal of experimental biology 216 (Pt 1): 99–112. PMID 23225872.
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      May 6 2013: This is also an interesting article on the attitudes of cat vs. non-cat owners. I says here that cat owners were less concerned about water pollution from their cats as opposed to non-cat owners. It also has an astonishing number for the amount of poop that was produced by 9,000 cats in a year: 76.4 tons!

      http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.229.1.74
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      May 8 2013: Just to add to these comments, the parasite in cat poop, Toxoplasma gondii, is harming sea otters!

      http://www-csgc.ucsd.edu/RESEARCH/PROJPROF_PDF/Conrad_CZ169.pdf
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        May 8 2013: Whoa what a crazy connection. This is a great reminder that we really live in one big, connected ecosystem. Actions produce ripple effects that travel much further than we might think.

        Here's a great BBC News article from 2006 about it with some quotes from Pat Conrad, author of the article you posted: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4729810.stm

        It is a major cause of mortality in sea otters living off the Californian coast: Toxoplasma caused 17% of deaths in sea otters examined from 1998 to 2001.

        "We need to control the infections in sea otters and reduce the risk to humans by managing our cats more responsibly" - Conrad

        "But by keeping the cats indoors, we reduce the chance they're going to get infected by eating infected birds or rodents, and the chance they are going to shed their faeces outdoors." - Conrad
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    May 6 2013: Jon, why did you only put your debate up for two days?
    You should leave it up for at least a week to give people the chance to answer.

    Meow.....
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      May 6 2013: It's for a class
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      Jon Cox

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      May 6 2013: Hi Mary,

      Ben is right. This is for a college class and our time frame for discussion is only two days. I wish it could go longer! It is a great issue to talk about. Maybe when this closes you could start up a new one.
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        May 7 2013: Thanks so much for your reply Jon......I don't know much about cats or this issue, but I will read on and learn.....Hope you do well in your class.....love the snow behind you pal....hey wait are you on a cliff????? Yikes
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          Jon Cox

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          May 7 2013: Haha no i went stir crazy and climbed up a radio tower :]
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        May 7 2013: Phew.........Remind me never to introduce you to my son......stay safe will ya!!!
        All the best with your class......looks like you got alot of participation.

        Mary