Jon Cox

This conversation is closed.

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

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.
  • 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
  • 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

      • +1
      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.
      • 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

          • +1
          May 7 2013: Haha no i went stir crazy and climbed up a radio tower :]
      • 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
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    May 8 2013: I think that Morgan is on the right track, but I think that there are some things that he needs to edit. I do not think that the part where the unregistered cats get automatically euthanized. I think that most people would be against that. A better option would be to keep the cats around for a period of time and see if they are adopted during that time. Obviously some difficulties with this would be finding space to keep the cats and the costs that come with this.

    Another problem with his proposal is that he is relying on people to be encouraged to do some of this stuff. What is encouraging them, besides the verbal encouragement from the government, to capture these feral cats and bring them in to authorities?

    Also, putting a chip into a cat is probably not cheap. Will there be an incentive to getting them chipped, like free chipping or a discount for a period of time? Cost could be a barrier for some people.

    I do think that something should be done about the cats, before all the birds are eaten.
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    May 8 2013: Jon, don't forget to give us a Closing Comment after your post closes. The window will appear on your screen and you can share a synopsis of the comments made and solutions suggested. Thanks for bringing up a very real, but not often discussed, problem.
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      May 8 2013: Thanks for the heads up, Edward! Glad you enjoyed the discussion. I did, too. It is such a complicated issue.. I think TED was the perfect place to bring it up. Every other discussion I have seen on the subject was little more than a bunch of childish argument between people demonizing cats, cat owners feeling like they and their pets were being personally attacked, and people with a misguided "WHO CARES IT'S NATURE" attitude toward biodiversity.
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    May 8 2013: Cats are useful on farms and in the country to keep mice out of homes and barns. But the problem with cats is the feral ones that take over and run wild in the cities. People that don't spay or neuter their cats should be responsible for taking care of any litters that come from that cat. Unfortunately that is not the case for most neighborhoods. Personally I would like to see something like Morgan's plan here in the US, even though it would never work. People like their pets, and cat people LOVE their cats.
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      May 8 2013: I think you bring up a very valid point that has been touched on in other parts of this thread. Many problems with cats arise from the fact that many are not neutered or spayed and in turn can create offspring that often run wild in cities reproducing and causing further problems. This issue seems like the most logical place to start if we want to really address the negative biodiversity impacts of cats. Programs and regulations that require cats to be neutered/spayed and that perform these services on stray cats seems like a good start
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        May 8 2013: Could it be possible to give new cat owners a choice when buying a cat to either neuter it or pay some sort of incident environmental fee? We should be dealing with the unregulated populations of feral and stray cats which probably are doing most of the damage.
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          May 8 2013: I like that idea. Or perhaps the incidental fee could be factored in to the cost of all new cats as a "tax". I tend to be cautious about adding costs to pet ownership, since there are an appalling number of people who choose to abandon their pets when incurring costs that they can't (or won't) pay, but this cost is up front and if a fixed amount of revenue is distributed among all new cat owners, I think there's a good chance it would work out to a very reasonable and affordable cost.
  • May 8 2013: i agree with Ashley..Cats aren't like dogs, they can't be held captive..some of the measures suggested by Morgan, are just extreme..if he says cats are "friendly neighborhood serial killer' of birds", aren't birds also the same...by eliminating one species, then that would cause a ripple effect into the food chain..and some species eventually will become extinct..wouldn't you say so...
    also, I don't believe eliminating "Cats" would help save the biodiversity..because there are other factors that causes an impact on biodiversity such as carbon pollution produce to the atmosphere by the transport vehicle,political issues and such..
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    May 8 2013: While the chip suggestion for house cats seems like a good idea, the suggestion to eradiacte cats (stray or not) sounds like an unrealistic solution to me (maybe because Morgan's suggestion reminded me a bit of Mao's "Four Pests Campaign", because it badly effected animal relations and Agriculture. Even though the situations for the two are different, I couldn't help but remember that). Besides, there would probably be some sort of consequence from killing them, that we may find out the hard way if we even try. Maybe, to help balance out the negative effects, we could somehow come up with a way to monitor how far they can go? the only problem with this is that it may be pretty costly, and depending on the pet owner, they may not be completely up for that.
    • May 8 2013: Island ecosystems do not equate to continental ecosystems. The only change that happened on my own lands after destroying every last cat of hundreds, is that the native predators were more than happy to move back in and keep the balance of nature in balance -- as it was for thousands and thousands of years until demented cat-lickers dumped their cats on the lands. While the cats were here I actually had a rodent problem show-up, that thankfully disappeared after every last cat was shot dead and buried. (Google for: Parasite hijacks the mind of its host; and you'll get to learn how cats' Toxoplasma gondii parasite actually attracts any rodents they infect with it, right to the cats, and into your homes.)

      If you depend on cats as rodent control, all you end up with is a happy predator-prey balance of nothing but cats and rodents on your lands. The cats having effectively displaced or destroyed all the other native species of animals. And cats will NEVER get rid of rodents. I don't know of too many cats that were designed by selective-breeding to slither into rodent burrows and destroy them where they happily breed -- to keep the cats entertained into perpetuity -- after those rodent litters leave their burrows. But native snakes and other native predators of rodents can and do control rodents -- right at their source. Cats are the absolute worst option for rodent control. Only a total idiot would think cats had any long-term effect to keep rodents in check.
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      Jon Cox

      • +2
      May 8 2013: Hi Ana,

      Yeah there would almost certainly be some unforeseen consequences of eradicating cats from a place like New Zealand which suffers from compounded effects of many invasive species. Humans have altered the natural environment so much that at this point any plan to remove an established invasive species would require careful consideration and implementation to prevent potential disastrous results.

      A good example of invasive species removal backfiring horribly is what has happened on Macquarie Island off Australia in the last few decades. It is a ridiculous story. Basically, rabbits and cats were both introduced to the island a hundred or so years ago. Both threatened native sea bird species in their own way.The rabbit population was getting out of control, so in the 60's a deadly virus was released in order to cull the rabbit population. It worked great, but with less rabbits around the cats chose seabirds to be their new favorite food source. Cats were seen as a serious threat to these birds so in the 80's a plan was put into motion to totally wipe out the cats on the island. Well they succeeded in doing this in 2000, but guess what happened afterward? The rabbit population exploded again and vegetation loss is extreme and now exotic plants are moving in to fill in the gaps... The present situation is similar to what it was before any conservation efforts. Possibly worse.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/science/17isla.html?_r=0

      Scientific article on the situation: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01601.x/full
  • May 8 2013: A BELL WORKS! I think cats should be spayed or neutered, have a chip and a bell on the collar. This will alert any birds or small prey to the approaching cat. The owners should be responsible and have a license, like a dog license. The requirements for a license should be for the cat to have a chip, be spayed or neutered, and to wear a bell outdoors. If any "pet" cat is responsible for killing a rare species of animal, the owners should face the same punishment as if the human killed the endangered species, i.e. imprisonment and or fines. But the real question is: Why do we have to make so many laws based on people's stupidity????
    • May 8 2013: And yet, anyone can research "the bell" solution to find out in only 2 minutes that that does nothing to stop cats from destroying native wildlife.
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      May 8 2013: I agree. My cat that I had growing up could kill anything with a bell around her neck. And same with my roommates cat now. Cats are great killers and bells around their neck do nothing.
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    May 8 2013: It seems good to control the number of stray and feral cats to protect wildlife such as birds and mammals, especially threatened species. However, I do not agree with Morgan's idea. We need to regulate the population of stay or feral cats toward decreasing its population, but not to eliminate them potentially.
    As stray and feral cats appeared to wild, they got involved in the nature; in addition, they affected to form the ecosystem. It means that they are acting as one of member in the nature group. As existing as both predator and prey, these cats affect on balancing the species in the ecosystem. If people get involved in the balanced ecosystem and try to eliminate the cats potentially, it would affect negatively on the interconnection between the speceis in the ecosystem and provoke unbalanced population. Gareth Morgan might overlook that all species involved in an ecosystem are interconnected with each other, and it can unbalance the group. So, what I concern is that artificially regulating the populations of stray or feral cats to protect birds may cause increasing the number of birds, dramatically decreasing other species which are bird's prey.
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      May 8 2013: I agree with you. This seems immoral that in order to save other species, cants would become extinct if Morgan's idea is spread throughout the world. However, we need some legislation to control this matter.
      I don't know how cat-lovers would react on this matter though. I am one of car-lovers, but I do not like people who do not concern how their cats behave in public. Definitely, we need some negotiation to solve this problem.
      As Clinton French mentioned possible regulations to control cats below, these might help both cats and our ecosystem.
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    May 7 2013: I feel that there should be legislation passed that qualifies more than one category of cat:

    1. indoor cat- A cat that is classified as this is not allowed to be outside and if a cat that is classified as this is found outside then its owners would be fined.
    2.outdoor/indoor cat- This sort of cat would require a permit of sorts, such that there will be a monetary price to having a cat that is an outdoor cat for those that prefer them.
    3 feral/stray cat- This sort of cat would be immediately picked up by animal control an either given to a home or euthanized(as a last resort)
    ALL people found in possession of an unclassified cat would be fined.

    Note: i am not a proponent of euthanasia, but it is the likely outcome of this sort of situation.
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      May 7 2013: I know there is a very strong stigma against euthanasia, but we dispose of plants all of the time. We spray herbicides to kill unwanted plants and insecticides to kill unwanted insects. What makes feral/stray cats or pets any different. If there is an area that has a persistent problem, why not control the population through the same means we control the diversity of life in our crops? Or, as mentioned earlier, sterilize them?

      There is a group in Singapore trying to save cats through humanitarian means that promotes the sterilization of strays and owned cats. Check out what the group is up to.

      http://www.catwelfare.org/aboutus
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        May 8 2013: Cats are viewed as a higher order being(not as high as humans) by most people.

        They have personalities and we therefore can relate to them and see ourselves in them.
        It is somewhat tantamount to asking people to kill someone else's son, for it may not be our cat, but it might be someone's cat.
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          May 8 2013: You also forget, that the Egyptians considered cats to be that of a God. Now a days, that idea isn't as mainstream in society, but instead has adopted the idea of a classic pet. It is highly unlikely that such a legislation will pass. For one thing, how will you regulate the indoor or outdoor cats? Cats are generally solitary animals that tend to wonder around of their own free will.

          Cats also have many liters that had a huge amount of offspring. If we send every cat that has no home to the animal control they will be overflowing with stray cats even more than they are right now. I agree with Walter that the cats who have no home should be sterilized so at least they won't be able to repopulate. Though the question of what to do with them overall to stop this massive extinction of other animals is still up in the air. It's difficult to put a price on an animal that is so integrated into society without finding huge flaws or resistance.
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          May 8 2013: Australian states and territories have recently taken a pretty firm stance on cats regarding the damage they do to endemic wildlife. There are some interesting laws being implemented and organized feral cat culls take place. Hunters are also encouraged to kill feral cats.

          Cats are very endearing, but at some point we will have to face reality.

          http://www.sportingshootermag.com.au/news/hunting-feral-cats

          This article discusses hunting as a countermeasure (in Aus). Apparently cats are divided into categories: Domestic, Stray, and Feral with distinctions between the three and a focus on feral cats as the problem.
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        May 8 2013: Also, If feral or strays are sick, injured, or starving it might serve as a moral obligation for population control or permit "vermin" control if rehabilitation is not an option. At what point do we leave the animals alone and not intervene with nature?
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      May 8 2013: Good point! I like your idea which might be possible to try.
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      May 8 2013: I think this is a good idea. It would be difficult though to come up with a method for keeping record of these different types of cats. For instance the human society suggests that feral cats be trapped, neutered, vaccinated for rabies, one ear surgically tipped for identification and then released. But what about cats that have recently been in a fight? I've seen a number of cats with large chunks missing from their ears. If such a cat had been TNR'd (trapped, neutered and released) then its record is essentially lost. How do we keep track of different classes of cats? Maybe it's as simple as placing a microchip inside each domestic cat that gives such information, and all one would have to do is use some sort of scanner which can read the chip. Ones without a chip could be TNR'd and chipped. This would also reduce the amount of stray cats as owners would be able to locate them! Unless of course the owners abandoned them. But it would take the guess work out of identifying a stray vs a feral cat.
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        May 8 2013: That's true. I am afraid how we could pay for that, and the owners are willing to pay for the system, which some countries already faced this problem in regulating dogs; it costs approximately $50 per cat or dog (1). Impanting a chip ensures to keep tracking though.
        (1)http://pets.webmd.com/features/microchipping-your-dog-or-cat
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        May 8 2013: I agree. It would be really hard to encourage people to pay more for a microchip, or any other sort of device to track their cats. And for stray cats coming into humane societies and such, who would pick up the cost for those cats getting chipped or sterilized. I think if there were more harsh guidelines (fees) to adopting and maintaining ownership of cats this could discourage people from getting cats at all. This could definitely cut back on the amount of stray and feral cats and their ability to procreate if less and less people are wanting cats. But, considering the staggering number of estimated cats in the U.S. ~160 million, the demand for cats decreasing due to harsher ownership guidelines would take a while. I definitely think the fact that cats are harming endemic species is a major issue and there needs to be a way to control it that will be popular among the public. Because ultimately people will want cats, just like people wanted alcohol during the prohibition, even though it was illegal. If the majority of the public is willing to support some sort of control mechanisms for cats, only then will we see an improvement. I love cats, but I definitely think there are way to many stray and feral cats in the world.
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      May 8 2013: There isn't such a thing as an indoor cat. Animals only live inside a house because people put them there. The only time I heard of such an animal was when I lived in Germany and knew American service people. Some of them had cats that they had pulled the claws out of so that they could not forage outside. In Germany this is illegal. One reason I was told it was illegal is because often people abandon their pets before they return to the US and because they have no claws they usually die before their claws have time to grow again.
      I think there are too many cats and dogs but while it is a business breeding and selling them it will take a while before much can be done.
      Animals need to be able to be outside and cats are not so easy to control. They often pick where they want to live. Many people think their cat spends the night roaming around and it is often curled up in a warm house where the owners have taken a "stray" in. A cat would have to be chained up and that is cruel.
      I can never imagine a country allowing the setting up of cat patrols which would catch and destroy cats on the loose. There would have to be herds of them first.
      To implement fines the cat would have to be caught and identified before the owner could be found. Would we have patrols carrying large nets, how would it be done? Should cats given into rescue homes be put down? If cats are caught, neutered and released, they cannot breed but they can carry on killing.
      What a quandary.
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    May 7 2013: I'm very much a cat lover so if any of my comments seem biast I apologize.

    Like the situation in New Zealand, a ban on felines (or even certain kinds of more agressive, predator felines) would not be well received in the United States, as the appeal for cats as pets is far too strong. However, I understand something must be done to help prevent cats from killing so many animals.

    I'm surprised that declawing cats has had no effects on the loss of bird/rodent species, as intuitively I would've thought that removing claws would physically handicap cats (as they would only be able to use their paws and teeth to hunt -- much more difficult). The idea of keeping cats indoors is cruel in my view; they are naturally outdoor animals,and if they are to be kept as pets, "members of the family," they should have the right to go outside. I do think the best option would be to put bells on their collars, or something that makes noise when the cat moves, in order to warn prey that a predator is near. While it'd most likely be frustrating to the cats, it's a necessary step to preserving biological diversity among bird and rodent species. Another idea would be to restrict cats to smaller outdoor areas. A friend of mine only allows his cats into his backyard, so I'd assume his cats would have little effect on the bird/rodent population in the area. One problem with this would be the lack of backyards in a given rural area (perhaps due to a creek or other biome existing around a house. Another problem is (if a household doesn't have a fence), the cost of building a fence just for the ability to own a cat... I could be wrong with this assumption that restricting cats' access to prey will work, but for now I think this could be another feasible option
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      May 7 2013: It would take a mighty fence to hold in most cats. It seems that many people aren't going to care about this problem unless there are serious consequences. It's reasonable to establish the same rules for cats as dogs. If your cat is caught running around, and you don't want it to be euthanized, you have to pay a fine. This would at least slow down the impact from pet cats. As for feral cats, maybe we encourage adolescent boys to stop playing video games, and start hunting collarless cats. We'll give them a bag of pop rocks for every cat they catch, and the cats can be put down humanely.
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        May 7 2013: Hahah, interesting proposition with the cat hunting. I do like the idea of consequences; perhaps by educating the general public (or somehow targeting cat owners) about the impact of cats on different animals, we can somehow increase the awareness of what's actually happening. By publicizing the global and long term consequences some people may take action by compensating with their cats (somehow). This is definitely a hard issue to discuss considering people's emotional connections to their pets
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          May 7 2013: It brings to mind the current issue with gun control, and the uproar it is causing in this country. Some of the same people fighting for gun rights, along with many other demographics would be outraged if the government tried to take serious action against cats. The internet, which is already obsessed with cats, would explode with criticism, and it would be political suicide for whoever brought it to the table. I can see it now on Fox News, "President Obama, our dog eating president, is trying to set up death panels for your family cat! So that we can save a few RATS!! Fascism!"
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        May 8 2013: Interesting.
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        May 8 2013: Haha! RATS! Love it. It's true, you could never get away with introducing this legislation under a democrat because this would equate to our freedoms being compromised. But perhaps we could slip it into some other legislation as an earmark from a conservative :D
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    May 7 2013: While New Zealand may have an acute problem that could warrant interference, any US government attempt to hunt down stray cats would be viewed not only as a waste of money but also as a vast overreach of governmental power. Americans have always been wary of the formation of any Ministry of Love to oversee matters of reproduction and death. While the specifics are different it would be unpopular for the same reasons as a one child policy, it's simply not the government's place. There is also some value in keeping rat and mouse populations managable, especially in an urban setting. Growing up I had two cats, one couldn't catch anything and one was a killing machine. Maybe this has been said already but a major confounding factor is that pet cats hunt smaller animals and drop them mostly intact on the porch as a sort of appreciative gift towards their owners like one of mine did. If the right to live once born isn't enough, consider the ethical quandaries of punishing a cat for following their old instincts to hunt like their big cat ancestors, especially when the prey is meant to be a present.
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    May 7 2013: I think a proposition like Morgan's would meet great resistance in the U.S. One big reason is the civil liberties/rights that make America unique; I could see many people rejecting this idea on the premise that their rights are being violated. Obviously the ideas behind this question are much more complex and scientific than those ideas behind a stance like that. My support for legislation that attempts to curb problems associated cats would depend on a multitude of factors specific to the situation, but ultimately it would depend on the resulting exacerbation or inhibition of biological impacts.

    Humans are only a small part of this very complex system of life that exists on planet Earth. We must handle this issue in a way that protects the integrity of this intricate (and not fully understood) system of life. Since cats have been shown to pose serious threats to important members of this web of life (and the resulting biodiversity), something must be done to reduce their impact. While humans enjoy the presence of cats, in a physical and emotional sense, their current ways of life are causing more biologically unhealthy effects than biologically healthy effects. We must decide what actions should be taken that benefit the greater good of life, in a holistic sense. The most ecologically sound outcome will result from a rational, instead of emotional, decision based on facts.
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    May 7 2013: I also disagree with Morgan's idea about eliminating cats in general. Like other people, I'm also concerned about removing the predators (feral cats) that you never know if other predators will be replaced on their role and increase preys population. For example, the wolves removal in Yellowstone National park in the U.S. Removing the top predators in the ecosystem disturbed the whole balance of the ecosystem and animals behaviors. Looking past regulation and actions have been done, we can not decide a extreme action so soon before we know what would be the consequences.

    To adjust this problem I think it will work a lots better if the two extreme group: cats colony caretakers and bird conservationists should find a common ground to work together and decide a good and balance solutions to solve the real issues. I believe many cat owners are very willing to participate in studies or research about cats as threat to biodiversity. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906181643.html)
    A study to monitor own-cats and un-own cats actually already have been done by Jeff Horn in a neighborhood near center Illinois. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526114531.htm) A research to study and collect data from firsthand and ground data could be more relevant than reading how many birds and endangered species were killed by one of our family member---cats. The interesting found on this study was that house cats rarely go too far from the houses. Their territories were way smaller than un-own cats.

    The other issues I think it also depends various areas, such us, urban, rural, and endemic islands.To consider feral cats as invasive species in a small island is vital because they might really kill large amount of endemic birds and causing threat to endangered species. Solution can be regulating families with cats on the island and ship un-own cats to bigger urban area for adoption. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130201090610.htm)
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      May 7 2013: To build on the idea of feral cats as invasive species on small islands, I found an article that covered a project to eradicate feral cats on the Ascension Island . This island was once home to the frigatebirds that have long been endangered and near to extinction since cats were introduced in the early 19th century. The Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds (RSPB) began a program to remove all feral cats from the island, resulting in the eventual return of nesting frigatebirds to the island. Although I understand the limitations of eradicating cats in larger geographical areas I think it is interesting and worthwhile to look at this case. Perhaps in areas under extreme threat and that are geographically small enough, drastic eradication may be necessary and possible. Additionally it will be helpful to follow if and how bird populations on this island repopulate to better understand the effect of removing feral cats.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/9735013/Rare-bird-returns-to-remote-British-island-after-RSPB-kill-off-feral-cats.html
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        May 7 2013: Wow Kacie! That article is a fantastic example of how after feral cats are eradicated, we see birds returning to the island. This supports a wonderful compromise where there are still household cats (regulated, but present) and the sharp decrease in feral cat populations. It was also cool to see that they were humane about the whole process and it only took 4 years to declare the island feral cat-free. Again, great find :D
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    May 7 2013: Just like anything the government attempts to ban, there would most likely be an illegal market that would develop in the presence of a feline outlawing legislation. However, I believe there is technology we could develop in order to maintain our not-so-friendly friends. I think the idea of placing a bell on a cat’s collar to warn potential prey is a great idea, and it might be interesting if we took that idea a step further and developed collars that projected frequency sounds in the presence of certain prey in order to warn them of the cat’s presence. However, these collars would have to limit their range to only a few feet so as not to startle all the birds in a large radius around the cat. There are also other products out there on the market, such as the Birdsbesafe collar, that utilizes brightly colored collars to warn nearby birds. The Audubon Society also recommends a number of solutions, which includes increasing dense vegetation cover in yards to provide birds with more protection. Not only would this help protect the birds, but it would also promote planting local vegetation that would help create more habitat in our urban environments. Like many problems, it would be best to solve this one using a number of methods that are best suited for different locales. This would involve developing technologies that are best suited for the major bird populations of different regions.

    I don’t think a major ban on felines would be feasible, well-received, or necessarily have the outcome we are hoping for. Exterminating cats may bring an imbalance to our urban ecosystems, as well as opening the door for a new bird predator. I think it would be best to look forward and develop new technologies that allow us to work with what we’ve got and maintain these pets that have lived by our sides for such a long time.

    http://www.birdsbesafe.com/
    http://web4.audubon.org/bird/at_home/safecats.html
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    May 7 2013: I don't think Morgan's initiative is a good idea. First of all, It seems like the action to eliminate the cats is not a moral one. How can you eliminate one species in order to protect the other? I mean, it is not fair to cats. Furthermore; this ban action is kind of break the normal food chain in my opinion. So, maybe one of the efficient ways to protect the wildlife is to create and protect habitats for them.
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      May 7 2013: I dont think banning all the cats in New Zealand is ever going to be possible. But I think an alternative to this is managing the stray cats and making sure that the pet owners spay and neuter their animals so the problem doesnt keep increasing. I think having a cheap (or even a free) clinic that offers spay and neutering would be extremely helpful. I do agree that the pet owners need to be more accountable to their pets as well. I also think that creating separate habitats in zoos or conservation sites would help the birds and keep the predators away from them. The main goal of conservation shouldnt be to exterminate one species to save another like Huan said but to find a way for both species to coexist and keep the pet lovers on the island happy.
    • May 8 2013: Huan you have to remember the initiative isn't one mans quest to eliminate cats from New Zealand, it is to control their free reign over all of the endemics that they prey on. As well they are not trying to eliminate them, his initiative is to have people stop replacing them, not start kitty internment camps. However I do agree with the idea of a habitat to protect the endemic species is a good idea, especially when there are all those feral cats out there hunting them down.
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    May 7 2013: I found one article that suggested that declawed cats actually kill more birds then cats that still have their claws. I found this interesting because intuitively I would of suspected the opposite to be true. All outdoor cats kill birds, whether they are feral strays hunting for a meal or well-fed pets let out for some fresh air. They kill birds whether they have been neutered or not. Even a declawed cat can kill birds. Some have suggested putting a bell on the cat, but that won't change an animals instinct to kill their prey. The information available in the articles about cat predation all suggests that the only suggestion is to keep the animals indoors. This leads to be wonder how do we go about changing a species naturally instinct? We did it before, after all cats weren't domesticated since their origin. Are there behavioral approaches that we can train cats with to combat this issue?
  • May 7 2013: I believe the only way to curtail death by cats is to limit breeding by mandatory neutering. With a bounty on any intact male cat found outdoors. Only by expensive permit would breeders be allowed to have males for breeding stock.

    A live trapping bounty on non-neutered male cats would promote the capture of them with limited expense paid for by a neutering tax. (Male cats only because it is obvious if they are sexually intact.)

    Owners who had any concern for their precious tomcat family member will either have to have them neutered or never let them outdoors.
    This system would not eliminate the carnage but would significantly reduce the death toll through lowering the cat population.
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      May 7 2013: Would that really lower the cat population though? What about the people that decide to rebel against it and breed them secretly from within the confines of their own homes? I believe that once we start giving people an ultimatum there will be backlash because they don't want to be forced to have to neuter their cats/ never let them outside.
      • May 7 2013: I agree, Rachel, I think this will have a negative cause-and-effect and stimulate illegal activity, just like anything else that is illegal... Could 'home-breeding' under dodgy and unsanitary conditions have negative effects on the feline species altogether?
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          May 7 2013: Lizanne, I think that 'home-breeding' under unsanitary conditions could lead to higher rates of disease within the feline species.If that ends up happening could it lead to a bigger problem than we're already facing?
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        May 7 2013: I agree that there would be people who rebel against it as it is human nature but if we educate everyone as to why this is going into effect I feel like more people would be on the side that this is a good way to decrease the population of cats and why we need the decrease and the regulation. A handful of people breeding and making a black market on cats wouldn't affect the population that much.

        The problem I do see with this solution would be the price tag for regulation.... the trapping and neutering of the males.
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          May 7 2013: Brianna, I think that they would haveto end up applying a tax that would go to paying for the trapping and neutering of these felines. I also believe that both the males and females would have to be fixed because it will take a long time to not only neuter the babies being produced now, but also to catch and neuter all the domestic and feral cats that are already out there before they continue to reproduce.
      • May 8 2013: Exactly my point, Rachel!
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      May 8 2013: Dale! Thanks for contributing to the conversation!!

      Compulsory sterilization and registration, with enforcement, are absolutely necessary. I have no faith that the general pet owning public will suddenly start caring about other organisms or acting more responsibly. Cat ownership must be better regulated, to the degree that a dog is at least. I dunno about the bounty idea though. I feel like offering money for bringing in random cats could lead to some dubious activity..but then again... bounty/reward systems already exists for lots of other invasives.

      Plants: http://ipaw.org/bounty.aspx

      Northern Pikeminnow aka Squawfish : http://www.pikeminnow.org/

      This pikeminnow bounty program is in Oregon, by the way. There are even some tagged pikeminnow out there that are redeemable for $500. I'm sure this is a good motivator!
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    May 7 2013: Does anybody know what type of funding there is for eradication of feral or stray cats? Is animal control always on the look out for them? I know euthanasia is very expensive And I wonder what peta would think about this idea... anybody a peta member or know someone who is and would have a peta influenced opinion over this topic? Are they more considered with biodiversity or over all protection of all animals?
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      May 7 2013: I know a couple members of PETA. I can pass your inquiry along to them if you'd like?
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        May 7 2013: yeah that'd be kind of cool! don't you agree? I feel like if something like this came about, they would definitely have some sort of input, along with any other animal protection organization.
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          May 7 2013: I agree, individuals like them who are involved in animal rights activism may be able to provide some valuable insight and perspective on this discussion. Neither of them (they are a married couple) appear to be on IM right now, but I have linked them to this thread in an email.
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      May 7 2013: I was also interested in what PETA might think about legislation allowing stray cats to be euthanized, so I did a little research and it seems they are more concerned about the cats than the biodiversity of our planet. However, they still encourage people to keep their cats indoors, or at the very least on a leash, for the protection of the cat rather than birds and small mammals. I'm certain they are aware of the threats cats are posing to local bird species, but they are never going to advocate the intentional killing of any animals, especially cats since they are so widely loved and respected by people.

      http://www.peta.org/issues/companion-animals/the-great-outdoors-not-for-cats.aspx
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        May 7 2013: Actually, looking through the PETA website and their stance on feral cats. They encourage trapping feral cats and taking them to a clinic that does include euthanasia. Here's the quote from their website:

        "Please do not allow the prospect of euthanasia to deter you from trapping cats. If you leave them where they are, they will almost certainly die a painful death. A painless injection is far kinder than any fate that feral cats will meet if left to survive on their own."

        This amazed me when I heard it, but it seems a lot more humane to give them a painless death than to let them suffer and die from disease, injury, maiming, or killed violently by humans. Here's their whole article on feral cats and how to handle them.

        http://www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/feral-cats.aspx
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      May 8 2013: To be honest, a lot of animal rights activists (myself included) don't support PETA because of their problematic overly sexualized and demeaning ad campaigns and the fact that their 'no kill' shelter actually euthanized many animals because they didn't have enough money to maintain them. Also a tiny fraction of money they raise actually goes toward helping animals, so I wouldn't necessarily take their word as what the entire animal rights community has to say. I think a lot of animal rights groups disagree with breeding pets in general and advocate instead for adopting needy animals from a shelter. There's also a difference between animal rights groups, which assert that animals have a right to their own life not controlled by humans, and animal welfare groups, which support using animals to satisfy certain human needs. So it all depends who you ask. Most seem to advocate for spay-neuter laws, adoption, and increased license laws for animals not fixed.
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    May 7 2013: Human pose a serious threat to biodiversity : Why don't we destroy it?

    Homo sapiens, commonly known as human pose a number of serious threat to biodiversity and many other problems to the environment. According to United Nations there are currently 7 billion people on the planet, and by the end of century the number expected to be 10 billion. This brings all kinds of problems such as food and water shortage etc.

    we are just big trouble makers an't we? If Homo sapiens becomes extinct, there will no long be questions as such, and all forms of life will flourish on Earth.
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      May 7 2013: Although a so-called "final solution" would be both romantic and effective, it will never be enacted by a sane organization or party. This seems more like a sarcastic jab at the topic than a thoughtful response, as if to imply that controlling the population of a harmful invasive species is as impractical, pointless, or undesirable as "destroy all humans," but i will indulge.

      Obviously, the most complete solution to the majority of anthropogenic environmental woes is simply "drastically decrease the population." Just as obvious, however, are the myriad new social and infrastructural problems that this would in turn create, and, even more so, the impracticality of bringing it to fruition. Killing millions or billions of people is not an option, and although "educate the public about the hazards of overpopulation" is actually a winning strategy (highly developed countries are finally seeing death rates outpace birth rates), it will take a very long time for humanity to "naturally" reach a sustainable and stable level (of course, the definition of a human carrying capacity mostly depends on to what degree we're willing to exploit/disrupt nature, but that is another issue). Most people are just trying to make it through the day and be happy and have no time to worry about such huge-scale problems when they're not sure if they'll be able to feed themselves or their families this week.

      The point here is that "make sarcastic remarks" or "hope there's a huge war/plague that kills everyone except the people I like" is not a real solution. As outlined above, we cannot just cut our population down to a more reasonable level, so we must focus on strategies to help minimize or reverse the damage that we DO cause.
      I feel like this response was a waste of time.
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        May 7 2013: I read it all. No regrets. Well put, Ben.
  • May 7 2013: I really doubt that a measure would ever be passed that would completely eliminate cats. I think a better use of time and resources could be spent towards developing a form of birth control in the form of a shot rather than having to nuder cats. If this was developed in would allow areas to control the wild populations of cats by capturing them and giving them a shot before releasing them.
    Education of the public can also help this issue. Solutions as simple as a bell on a cats collar can greatly reduce the amount of animals they are able to capture.
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      May 7 2013: There are a few reasons neutering cats works really well. First off, it's permanent. The cat should no longer be able to reproduce, sterilizing shots in humans only work for about a few years before they wear out. Not to mention the amount of synthetic hormones it would take to permanently sterilize these cats. We already have enough to worry about just with elevated levels of human hormones being found in drinking water. As much as it sounds good to just give these cats a quick and painless shot, I don't think this is a very realistic option. Neutering works ~100% of the time and you don't have to worry about hormonal cats running around lol.
      • May 8 2013: I agree that it obviously is more beneficial to neuter. But that costs a lot of time and money to get stray cats neutered. There is a lot of research actually being done on the idea of administering a sterility shot. I understand the concerns that you bring up associated with that though. But even if the shot only made the animal sterile for a period of time it could still help in controlling the population.
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      May 8 2013: Finding a faster way to neuter or spay cats like through a shot is a very interesting idea. This would make the process of capturing, altering, and releasing feral cats much faster and more efficient, leading to a larger impact on the population thus reducing the number of native species killed by cats.
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    May 7 2013: What if we take a poll of current cat owners (which is pretty much everyone) asking what they have found to be the best method of keeping their own cats away from the bird feeders?

    This is an age old problem that I'm sure a lot of owners have been are currently addressing. Is it bell collars? Sprinklers? Citrus peels? Having a dog around?... What do you guys think?
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    May 6 2013: I would have to agree with the conversation that pertains to holding cat owner's more accountable for their pets. I agree with Morgan's points surrounding the fact that cats are getting out of hand and should be implanted with GPS chips to be aware of their whereabouts because of the decreasing numbers and biodiversity of birds, reptiles and amphibians throughout the world. I know that these GPS implants won't make the decreasing numbers of birds disappear but it will definitely help dramatically.
    With that said, cats aren't the only "pets" that are threatening biodiversity. We need to think of the bigger picture and look at other ways to help the decreasing numbers of animals today. For example, Humans account for most of today's extinctions due to building on natural habitats, increasing C02 levels, est.
    One thing I think we should look into is killing Insects. Pest insects can ruin anything from a small garden to large farm crops. Insecticides, pesticides and other chemical means of control can help, but there's a price to be paid for their use. For starters, many products that kill pest insects will also kill beneficial insects, including bees, ladybugs and worms. Unless you take the time to identify the pest insect properly and research a way to kill it, you might end up causing major damage to the ecosystem.

    http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-surprising-threats-to-biodiversity.htm
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    May 6 2013: I live in the mountains and have seen the affect that cats have on my own small ecosystem. When i first moved into my house there was a plethora of chipmunks living in the rock formation right behind my house. There were easily two different colonies each consisting of two dozen individuals, within two summers and the introduction of my two cats the population dwindled. Today in my backyard it is extremely rare to see a chipmunk at all. By strategically placing bird feeders i was able to reduce the amount of birds that my cats were catching.
    Cats are the most widespread invasive species and have found places in many of our homes and hearts. There are several good reasons to keep cats around, they reduce rodents such as mice and rats and are wonderful companions. But cats have been shown to reduce species population and cause extinctions in several bird species. I think that there is a major problem not just the united states, many people don't believe in a no kill shelter but don't spay or neuter there animals. We could reduce the amount of stray and feral cats by encouraging people to spay and neuter there own cats. Taking radical action and getting ride of all cats may be a tad bit extreme but control and moderation like everything may be the key to solving this problem. Since I have seen first hand how cats can completely change an ecosystem this is an important issue that should be addressed but many people have no idea that cats can have this kind of effect.
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    May 6 2013: I read an interesting article about putting bells/sonic collars on cats in order to help decrease cat kills. This study was done on British domestic cats and found that putting these alert collars on them decreased the number of birds and small mammals by 31/42% depending on what kind of collar was used (bell/CatAlert respectively). Thinking that people will give up cats may be unrealistic for now, but just by putting different collars on them we can help reduce the amount of animals killed by cats.

    http://www.conservationevidence.com/individual-study/152
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      May 7 2013: Nice. So, what if every time an adoption occurred at a shelter, pet store, private breeder, etc. the sellers were required to send the cat home with a bell collar? If these collars really work, they seem like a good low-cost, solution that doesn't harm the cat at all.
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    May 6 2013: I think it would be useful to hold cat owners more accountable for their pets. Cats are often let outside of homes where they are allowed to roam about the neighborhood freely, killing birds and doing other damage as they please. This sever lack of supervision by owners is not allowed for other pets, such as dogs, which have to be on a leash or contained in a fenced yard. Stray dogs pose a more obvious threat to humans than do cats, so these different regulations are set in place with humans in mind but not birds/small mammals.

    In order to reduce this threat of cats to biodiversity, I think measures need to be taken to better contain cats. Maybe cats have to become strictly indoor cats or kept in covered pens outside. I do agree with a couple of Morgan's points, mostly the idea of chipping cats and fining owners if they escape their homes/cause destruction, but not with the end goal of eradicating cats. I think the chips would be necessary to keep track of owners/make them more accountable for their cats, and a fine would encourage better containment and supervision of pet cats. Although this doesn't help with the feral cat problems, I think it is a step in right direction.
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      May 8 2013: i would agree that measures should be taken so that cats cant be allowed to roam outside, but is this even practical? how would you chip a cat and then make sure it always stays inside? i just dont see how anyone could realistically regulate when a cat goes in and outside.

      Yes, owners should be held responsible for their animals, and i agree that if you didnt pay attention to a dog it would be a huge deal vs cats do roam free. It is sad that the regulations are set in place to only really care about humans and not the other species that the cats threaten.
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    May 6 2013: Because cats are so fertile (one female can have several litters a year) I don't think that decreasing cat ownership is the solution but rather making cats flat out illegal. For similar reasons, trap-neuter-release programs aren't effective at controlling cat populations.

    I think that cats should be considered as exotic animals, which, like other exotic species if released into the wild can cause harm to natural ecosystems.

    I propose we make cats (that aren't registered by a certain date) illegal to own as pets or be bred. As a precautionary measure, all registered cats would be spayed or neutered. All stray cats that aren't registered before said date would be euthanized. In this way we could phase out cats as pets.

    As long as humans are allowed to own cats as pets, they will go feral and wild animals will be killed by house cats and feral cats alike.

    Undoubtedly, there will be those that protest and say it infringes on their freedoms but we need to make difficult choices now that species extinction is happening so rapidly . Its for the greater good and cats are just too destructive to justify.
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      May 7 2013: I mentioned on some one else's earlier but you can't really regulate cat owners, because of the massive amount of cat births that can happen. Millions of cats a year are born, and many of those cats are given or sold away to friends and such. Owners would also have an uproar not only that innocent cats are being euthanized, but also that cats that get away without their collar could mistakenly be put down. This seems like a similar strategy to Mr. Morgan's, and as much as i think these need to happen. I don't see a realistic way to get them approved by citizens or government officials.
    • May 7 2013: I'm going to jump in here, I'm no expert, but I am a citizen who has owned 1 cat when I was a young child.
      It was the runt of a litter. It's mom left him behind in our back yard, and we nursed it to health and kept him, until one day he ran away and got runned over by a car. (sob)

      It seems that some individuals are responsible pet owners. Others, are clearly not.

      I don't see anything wrong with going around and picking up stray cats, and doing what needs to be done with them. I also don't see anything wrong in implementing a law that spells out what you are required to do if you own a cat. I think most citizens would approve such laws if they were educated and knowledgeable on the subject.

      Like everything else, I think there is a lack of knowledge as to the threats these cats pose to biodiversity.
      I'm hopeful that in the future something will be done about it. Everything takes time....the waiting is the
      hard part.
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      May 7 2013: While I agree that cats are posing a serious risk to the health of many species, it's not as simple to solve as you are putting it, Chelsea. How will cat breeders continue to make money if it is illegal to own a cat that is still fully capable of producing offspring? And what about all of the animals rights activists who will undoubtedly fight the legislation to kill stray cats? After all, humans are the ones who put those cats on the streets, no? Who's to say the stray cats are the ones to blame when, in fact, it is irresponsible cat owners?
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        May 7 2013: I agree, that its' the irresponsible cat owners who are to blame, but I think there will always be irresponsible cat owners that will let their cats out to kill and become strays. Also, keeping cats in the house doesn't seem very humane as others have pointed out, so I think the best thing to do is make cat ownership illegal. Not that this type of legislation would have any hopes of passing in the US in the near future.

        Surprisingly, groups such as PETA condone euthanasia of stray cats because they don't do well in the wild, often succumbing to disease, being hit by cars, not getting adequate nutrition, etc.
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      May 7 2013: Your idea would definitely reduce the impact cats have on biodiversity, but it could never actually be implemented, at least in the United States. Most of the public would consider making cats full-on illegal an infringement on their rights. I mean, I don't think the "right to bear cats" is explicitly written in the constitution, but cat and dog ownership are pretty big aspects of American culture. And as Mary said, the issue is compounded by a lack of awareness. Few people realize how many animals cats kill, and fewer people care. Very few would accept the prohibition and euthanasia of a bunch of cats to save some random species of bird they've never hear of. I would suggest that we make cat owners more responsible by requiring the same kind of registration process as for dogs, mandating spaying/neutering, and increasing our efforts to catch and destroy feral cats. Of course all this requires money, and I don't know how it would work out in terms of economic feasibility.
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      May 8 2013: Honestly, I just don't feel like we'd ever be able to truly phase out cats and pets, and I'm pretty sure that I and many other people don't want to. While I do agree that cats have definitely caused some serious problems for biodiversity with the mass amounts of killings animals they've done, I don't think the answer is to get rid of them as pets. I don't think it's feasible or ethical to euthanize all stray cats and those that escape euthanasia would just continue to reproduce, and I think that if cats are going to be around in significant numbers anyway, it's better that they're domesticated than feral.
    • May 8 2013: Chelsea, I think that your idea about taking care of the large cat population seems like the only way to regulate the damage that cats do to biodiversity. While it does seem rather far fetched to try and round up all stay cats, that seems like the best idea I've heard. If this was implemented, not all cats would be eliminated, but a large amount of the stray cats would be reduced. I just don't think that the American people would allow this to happen, just because so many are very attached to their cats.
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    May 6 2013: I don't think Morgan's plan is a reasonable approach towards curbing the expanding cat populations in New Zealand as it suggests that you can place a value on the life of an animal and weight it relative to the life of another animal.

    I think a better idea would be to use artificial selection on captive cat populations and select for cats that are natural pacifists and friendly to birds. They have been doing a similar thing to this with foxes in Russia in an attempt to breed viable domestic pets. One this has been successful they can reintroduce these friendly cats into the local population and slowly replace the bird murdering cats.
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      May 6 2013: How many mice, fish, or other model organisms does science mutilate for the betterment of science? How many cows, chickens and pigs are exploited each year for human consumption? We place values on the lives of animals every day and have for centuries. Cats should be held to the same standard especially when they are destroying the diversity of the environments they live in. We wouldn't let a rodent population get out of hand and let them run amok, just because cats are cute and cuddly doesn't mean that they get the excuse to ruin whole ecosystems.

      On that point, should humans be held to the same standard too? As a human race we are responsible for countless extinction of species and we continue to pave the way for the next mass extinction on our planet.

      Also, could we be using the higher population of cats for scientific study or food source? Instead of pumping unwanted cats with poison to kill them, is there a better way to "recycle" the cat population?
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        May 7 2013: This is an interesting idea, yet, I doubt the hardcore cat lovers which I'm sure includes high up politicians would allow cats to be eaten or used as a science experiment. Maybe in the distance future but I think humans care to much for our house pets right now. Could we maybe simply just make cats more expensive or less available? Or create a tax for having cats? I feel like anyone can get a cat for free. Something needs be done though, the numbers Jon provided are ridiculous...
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          May 7 2013: The idea of a "cat tax" is really intriguing. In the United States, we currently tax many things with negative impacts on biodiversity. For example, industries must pay large fees for emitting pollutants beyond industry standards. Making cats more expensive would be one potential way to limit the number of cats purchased, but it is not an uncommon thing for people to buy purebred dogs for over $1000 and I can imagine cat-lovers paying large amounts of money for their feline friends.
          In order to deal with the negative impacts house cats have on biodiversity, I think we need to treat them like any other species instead of a family member.
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          May 7 2013: I think there might be problems with a sort of cat tax, because many people don't register their cats. I know of many friends who adopted kittens from other friends and then do not register, inoculate, or spay them, and this is happening all over the country. I'm not sure we have the ability to regulate pets, except in the case of pure-breeds and other highly priced species that are being bought and sold. Also, these cats are probably indoor pets that do not account for the large amount of deaths that are mostly attributable to feral and outdoor cats. I think that a scientific use for cats could definitely come into play, and these studies on how they affect biodiversity in ecosystems from urban to rural areas prove their use. I would like to see some more uses of these cat populations.